February 2, 2024

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said that as early as today, and “no later than Sunday,” the chamber’s leadership will post the full text of a spending bill including aid to Ukraine and Israel, border spending, and other priorities—plus a new section changing U.S. law making asylum—and perhaps other legal migration pathways—more difficult to attain at the U.S.-Mexico border.

This section is the product of more than two months of talks between a small group of senators. Even yesterday, Schumer said, “Conversations are ongoing, and some issues still need resolution, but we are getting very close.”

Schumer expects to hold a cloture vote (to end debate on the bill and move to a vote) next Wednesday. The Senate is scheduled to go on a two-week recess after next week.

While the bill may pass the Senate, legislators and analysts say that its prospects of becoming law are growing dimmer. It may fail to win a majority of Republican votes in the Democratic-majority Senate, which would weaken it as it goes to the Republican-majority House of Representatives, where Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) and other GOP leaders have been voicing opposition.

A letter from 22 Congressional Hispanic Caucus members prods the Biden administration’s Justice and Homeland Security Departments to investigate the state of Texas for impeding Border Patrol’s access to a broad swath of riverfront in Eagle Pass.

“He forgets that Texas used to belong to Mexico and puts up barbed wire fences and has an anti-immigrant policy against those who, out of necessity, have to go to the United States to make a living,” said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

“What makes Abbott’s recent actions most bizarre, though, is his target: Border Patrol,” reads an analysis from Texas Monthly’s Jack Herrera.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is sending a battalion of the Florida State Guard to the border. This force is different from a National Guard, which sometimes can come under federal control: several states also have (usually tiny) paramilitary forces, commanded by their governors, and funded entirely with state budgets. It is likely that the U.S. Code does not authorize their use outside their home states.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The New York Times’s Carl Hulse wrote an overview of past 21st-century attempts to push bipartisan border and immigration reforms through Congress. All failed, despite majority support, due to far-right opposition.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler and CBS News’s Camilo Montoya-Galvez recall that—contrary to what Speaker Johnson has been arguing—the law does not permit President Biden to ban migrants once, like asylum seekers, they have arrived on U.S. soil.

Politico reports that Republicans are making the border and migration their main campaign issue in a special election to replace expelled Rep. George Santos in Long Island, New York.

The outcome of this February 13 vote could be important for House Republicans’ effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. They need a majority of the House to send it to the Senate, will get no Democratic votes, and Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck yesterday said he opposes impeachment.

At the Los Angeles Times, David Savage looked at a 2012 dissenting opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia that today forms the basis for Republican governors’ claims that they can pursue their own immigration policies independent of the federal government.

At Just Security, Houston lawyer Kate Huddleston explained the far-right and white-supremacist history of what is now a mainstream Republican push to justify state border crackdowns using the Constitution’s “invasion” clause. El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and others told the Houston Chronicle that “invasion” rhetoric incites violence.

About 400 remaining members of a migrant “caravan” that began near Mexico’s border at Christmas are making their way on foot through Mexico’s southern state of Veracruz. That’s a walk of over 500 miles.

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