January 31, 2024

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After more than two months of talks and an agreement nearly finished, prospects are dimming for a Senate deal that might restrict the right to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, a Republican demand for allowing a package of Ukraine, Israel, border, and other spending to go forward.

The leadership of the House of Representatives Republican majority continues to dig in against it because they feel it doesn’t go far enough and because Donald Trump is attacking it.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) tweeted yesterday a new Republican talking point: that President Biden could limit migration through executive action, using existing legal authorities like detaining all asylum seekers (for which no budget exists), or issuing highly controversial blanket bans on classes of people, like Donald Trump’s 2017 “Muslim Ban” executive order (which do not supersede the right to seek asylum at the border).

Many Senate Republicans, too, are either attacking the deal or appearing to back away. A senior Republican, John Cornyn (Texas), told Politico that “it certainly doesn’t seem like” the deal can pass the Senate. “There are a number of our members who say, ‘Well, I’ll join a majority of the Republicans but if it doesn’t enjoy that sort of support, then count me out.’”

The “decision as to whether to proceed to a floor vote, which would involve releasing the [deal’s] text, is largely a decision being made by Republicans,” said lead Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).

Following a nearly 15-hour hearing, the Republican majority on the House Homeland Security Committee voted 18-15, on strict party lines, to advance the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“Republicans have not yet offered clear evidence that Mayorkas committed any high crimes and misdemeanors,” a Washington Post analysis noted. It is not clear whether Republicans have enough votes in their caucus to gain the majority of the full House necessary to send the impeachment to the Democratic-majority Senate, where Mayorkas’s acquittal is certain.

“I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me,” Mayorkas wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Green (R-Tennessee).

Mayorkas met virtually with relevant officials from Guatemala’s new government to discuss cooperation on countering migration and drug trafficking.

While the Mayorkas impeachment proceeded, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), one of the House’s foremost border hardliners and a defender of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) state-led crackdown, held a hearing about state versus federal jurisdiction in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, which he chairs.

As the Biden administration moves to reinstate sanctions on Venezuela—a response to the Caracas regime’s disqualification of the main opposition candidate in elections scheduled this year—the country’s vice president announced that Venezuela would prohibit U.S. flights deporting Venezuelan migrants as of February 13.

Between the October 5, 2023 reinstatement of deportation flights and January 21, 2024, ICE had sent 14 deportation planes to Venezuela.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract plane flew deported Mexican migrants to Mexico’s central Pacific state of Michoacán yesterday. It was the first “interior removal” flight of Mexican citizens since May 2022.

Colombia’s migration authority released its first-ever estimate of migration through the treacherous Darién Gap region in 2023: 539,949 people. This is slightly higher than Panama’s estimate of 520,085, which the Panamanian government updates monthly.

Analyses and Feature Stories

Three New York Times reporters examined the evolution of President Biden’s border policies since 2021, portraying it as a turn toward favoring harder-line measures as migration at the border increased.

By moving to the right on border and migration as the 2024 campaign gets underway, President Biden “is trying to strip Republicans of one of their most effective wedge issues,” reads a USA Today analysis.

Centrist strategist Ruy Teixeira told New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall that he doubted Biden has “the stomach to turn a ‘red meat’ conservative stance on immigration into a wedge issue.”

Tonatiuh Guillén, a migration expert who headed the Mexican government’s immigration authority during the first months of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s presidency, accused the López Obrador of apparent “passivity” in the face of a possible new U.S. authority to expel migrants, which would require Mexico’s cooperation.

Similarly, a Current History article by the New School’s Alexandra Delano Alonso found that the López Obrador government is mirroring the U.S. focus on deterrence, abandoning a more humane migration policy.

USA Today, Washington Post, and Slate reporters visited Eagle Pass, the epicenter of Gov. Abbott’s standoff with the federal government, placing local residents’ views at the center of their reporting.

As a convoy of right-wing protesters heads to Eagle Pass this weekend, Wired found much confusion and paranoia within the group’s exchanges on the Telegram platform.

At CalMatters, Wendy Fry examined Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) plans to construct more high-tech surveillance towers along California’s southern border.

At his Americas Migration Brief newsletter, Jordi Amaral expected Ecuador’s organized-crime violence to trigger an even greater outflow of migration. (Ecuador was the number-seven nationality of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2023.)

On the Right

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