Schumer’s Border Blunder: A Comedy of Legislative Errors

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For nearly three years, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) remained inactive as President Joe Biden allowed millions of illegal immigrants into the United States. Cities such as Denver, Chicago, and New York sought relief from the influx, yet Democrats dismissed the notion of a crisis requiring attention.

Then, in February, after Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) made an arrangement with the White House, Democrats suddenly deemed border security an “urgent” issue, necessitating over 275 pages of legislation that demanded an immediate vote.

The Senate prudently rejected the bill, with fewer than 50 senators supporting it. Meanwhile, companion legislation to aid Ukraine and Israel has become law. No progress has been achieved regarding the foundational border security proposals. Nevertheless, Schumer is once more advocating another vote, which he is likely to lose by a larger margin.

Why this legislative charade? Why waste the Senate’s time?

It’s occurring because Schumer aims to retain his position as majority leader and believes the vote might benefit him.

Unlike Senate Democrats, voters recognize the border crisis and attribute the situation to Biden. This explains why Senate Democrats facing reelection in red and purple states, such as Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Jon Tester (D-MT), are eager to vote on the Lankford bill again.

Lankford is less enthused. “What they’re talking about next week,” Lankford remarked, “is not serious.”

He’s right. Unfortunately, the deal he negotiated with the White House doesn’t offer a viable solution for the open border. Much attention has been given to the “new authority” the legislation grants Biden to “shut down the border.” However, it doesn’t compel Biden to act. If a specified number of migrants are apprehended for illegal crossings, an expulsion power activates, but the legislation explicitly states Biden can choose to ignore it. More critically, the new expulsion power is temporary and will expire before the next presidential term begins. Thus, even if a future president wished to utilize the power, it would no longer be available.

The legislation establishes a new permanent system for processing illegal migrants termed a “noncustodial removal proceeding.” Migrants processed under this new system must be released into the United States. To be clear: the new procedure mandates the release of migrants into our country. In essence, the Lankford bill doesn’t “detain and deport” as claimed; instead, it compels officials to continue the “catch and release” practice that frustrates many Americans.

Republicans challenging Democrats in red and purple states should welcome Schumer’s decision to present Lankford’s bill for a stand-alone vote. It will force Senate Democrats to publicly support Biden’s failed catch-and-release policies.

“The American people do not have the luxury of playing partisan blame games,” Schumer wrote in a letter to colleagues announcing the new vote. “They want bipartisan action to secure the border.” Regrettably, the bill would exacerbate the crisis.

Schumer should consider the House-passed Laken Riley Act, which garnered over 30 Democratic votes and would have prevented the death of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley.

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