January 26, 2024

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Ex-president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump is opposing a possible Senate deal that might restrict the right to asylum and other migration pathways in exchange for Republican assent to a package of spending for Ukraine aid and other priorities. Trump says the senators’ agreed migration restrictions—which remain undisclosed—are “another Gift to the Radical Left Democrats” because they don’t go far enough, and that he would handle the border after his election.

While this casts a cloud over their prospects of passing a deal, Senate negotiators and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) are pledging to forge ahead with negotiations despite Trump’s objections. As has been the case in several past weeks, they say that legislative language may emerge “next week.”

That language may include a new Title 42-style authority to expel asylum seekers from the United States when daily migrant encounters exceed a number, along with a higher standard that asylum seekers would have to meet to pass credible-fear screening interviews.

Negotiators don’t seem to have agreed on Republican demands to limit the presidential humanitarian parole authority. Camilo Montoya-Galvez of CBS News tweeted that proposals under discussion “have included numerical caps on parole grants, barring migrants with parole status from asylum and limiting the use of the authority at land borders.”

On January 24 McConnell had made comments casting doubt about whether, given Trump’s opposition, it made sense to keep pushing for the migration-restrictions deal. Yesterday, the Minority Leader—who has a poor relationship with Trump—adjusted his tone and threw support behind his party’s chief negotiator, Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma).

“Trump’s push to kill the border deal to deny President Biden a legislative win is upsetting members on both sides of the aisle as negotiators hope to wrap up work on an agreement within days,” The Hill noted. Its reporting adds, though: “A senior aide to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) told a group of Senate Republican chiefs of staff Thursday that the Senate border security pact has no chance of passing the House,” where the Republican majority may, like Trump, insist on harder-line migration restrictions.

Lead Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said Republicans are “going to make a decision in the next 24 hours as to whether they actually want to get something done, or whether they want to leave the border a mess for political reasons.”

“Giving up on a border security bill would be a self-inflicted GOP wound,” read an editorial from the Wall Street Journal’s very conservative editorial board. “President Biden would claim, with cause, that Republicans want border chaos as an election issue rather than solving the problem. Voter anger may over time move from Mr. Biden to the GOP, and the public will have a point.”

The Senate is out of session until Tuesday; negotiators expect to meet through the weekend.

Doctors without Borders, which operates two humanitarian facilities in the part of Panama where migrants emerge from the treacherous Darién Gap migration route, revealed that it “treated 676 survivors” of sexual violence in 2023—214 of them alone in December. “One act of sexual violence every three and a half hours in the Darién jungle” perpetrated by criminals against migrants in this lawless zone.

In Mexico’s southern-border city of Tapachula, about 1,500 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and other countries formed a new “caravan.” No caravan has succeeded in reaching the U.S. border since late 2018: the mass marches are now attempts to pressure the Mexican government to provide documentation. A much larger caravan that departed Tapachula over Christmas is much reduced and moving slowly through Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca.

“We are trying to seek the possibility of people staying in the southern part of Mexico, because the travel is dangerous,” Mexico’s foreign minister, Alicia Bárcena, told PBS NewsHour.

A Honduran migrant who had arrived in Chihuahua city by train told Raíchali that “the National Guard asked them to ‘get off by force.’ When they refused, the agents climbed into the train cars and beat them to make them get off the train.”

25 Republican governors signed a statement backing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in his dispute with the Biden administration over Border Patrol agents’ access to border sites, cutting of state forces’ concertina wire, and other state efforts to block and arrest migrants and asylum seekers.

Representatives of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama met on January 24 and signed a “Panama City Declaration” committing to improved cooperation on protecting migrants in 2024.

Analyses and Feature Stories

At ICE’s detention centers, the DHS Inspector-General looked at 6 cases of hysterectomies performed on detained migrant women—and found that 2 of the hysterectomies were medically unnecessary, according to a new report.

A FWD.us survey of recent humanitarian parole recipients shows that nearly all are participating in the U.S. economy and “an extremely low share (3%)” is depending on private or government assistance.

A report from the Migration Policy Institute “examines the history of the federal government’s efforts to improve southwest border security in the modern era” and concludes that the response includes better interagency coordination and international partnerships.

“Far from developing a climate refugee status (not mentioned in the DHS plan), U.S. border policy for climate migrants is to deter people with walls, armed agents, technological surveillance, arrests, detention, deportation, and mind-boggling, slow-moving bureaucracy,” wrote Todd Miller at the Border Chronicle.

On the Right

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