President Biden fought on Friday to avoid wasting a bipartisan immigration deal from collapse in Congress, vowing to close down the border if the plan grew to become legislation even because the Republican speaker pronounced it lifeless on arrival within the Home.
In a written assertion that got here as Senate negotiators scrambled to finalize a deal that former President Donald J. Trump is pressuring Republicans to oppose, Mr. Biden used his most stringent language but concerning the border, declaring it “damaged” and in “disaster” and promising to halt migration instantly if Congress sends him the proposal.
“What’s been negotiated would — if handed into legislation — be the hardest and fairest set of reforms to safe the border we’ve ever had in our nation,” he stated. “It will give me, as president, a brand new emergency authority to close down the border when it turns into overwhelmed. And if on condition that authority, I’d use it the day I signal the invoice into legislation.”
The pending compromise wouldn’t give him a lot alternative. Below the rising deal, the administration could be required to close down the border to migrants trying to enter with out prior authorization if encounters rise above 5,000 on any given day — a threshold that has been surpassed routinely in latest months.
Mr. Biden’s recent efforts to salvage the deal got here hours after Speaker Mike Johnson sought to choke off the final remaining glimmers of hope that it’d survive, repeating that the settlement would nearly definitely be a nonstarter within the Republican-led Home.
“If rumors concerning the contents of the draft proposal are true, it might have been lifeless on arrival within the Home anyway,” Mr. Johnson wrote in a letter to Home G.O.P. lawmakers.
It was the newest grim prediction for the proposed border settlement after the highest Senate Republican conceded this week that Mr. Trump’s opposition had made the plan politically troublesome for the get together to embrace, all however killing its probabilities.
Mr. Biden’s Friday night assertion amounted to a counterpunch towards Mr. Trump’s efforts to torpedo the deal, pitting the present and former commanders in chief towards one another in a high-stakes struggle over what’s shaping as much as be a central concern within the presidential marketing campaign.
Because the immigration plan teeters on Capitol Hill, the destiny of further support for Ukraine hangs within the stability as properly, with hard-right Home Republicans additionally dug in towards it and threatening to depose Mr. Johnson if he seeks to push it by means of over their objections.
In his letter, Mr. Johnson stated the Home would transfer forward subsequent week with its drive to question Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland safety secretary, and doubled down on his calls for that Congress embrace both an immigration crackdown invoice the Home handed final yr or an equally extreme measure.
“Because the day I grew to become speaker, I’ve assured our Senate colleagues the Home wouldn’t settle for any counterproposal if it might not truly clear up the issues which were created by this administration’s subversive insurance policies,” he wrote.
Mr. Biden’s phrases had been unlikely to maneuver the rising variety of skeptical Republicans who’ve argued that the president already has the instruments and the chief energy he must dramatically limit migration into the nation — and refuses to make use of them.
“A lot of our constituents have requested an essential query: ‘What’s the level of negotiating new legal guidelines with an administration that won’t implement the legal guidelines already on the books?’” Mr. Johnson wrote in his letter. “If President Biden needs us to consider he’s critical about defending our nationwide sovereignty, he must display his good religion by taking quick actions to safe it.”
The letter mirrored a stance Mr. Johnson and different hard-right Republicans within the Home have maintained for months, repeatedly dismissing the border enforcement measures below dialogue within the Senate as inadequate. It got here as Republican proponents of the deal within the Senate toiled to construct wanted G.O.P. help to push it ahead. That process has grown rather more troublesome as Mr. Trump has gained floor in his quest for the get together’s presidential nomination.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority chief, advised fellow Republicans behind closed doorways this week that Mr. Trump’s hostility to the plan and his rising dominance within the major had put them “in a quandary.”
Mr. McConnell, a chief Republican proponent of sending extra support to Ukraine, has been a vocal supporter of the border deal that members of his get together have insisted upon as the worth of their backing for continued help for Kyiv.
The bipartisan crew of senators that has been working for months to strike a compromise to crack down on rampant migration and drug trafficking throughout the southern border with Mexico has come to an settlement in latest days on a set of coverage modifications. They embody measures to make it tougher to safe asylum and improve detention amenities.
The deal would additionally improve the variety of obtainable visas by 50,000, together with many that may be green-card eligible, and set a objective of deciding asylum circumstances inside 90 days.
The group has not but agreed on how a lot cash to commit to the trouble.
Many Republicans are upset that the deal doesn’t embody a selected restriction on parole, the administration’s authority to let migrants not in any other case legally approved to enter the nation stay and work in the US on a brief foundation. In his letter on Friday, Mr. Johnson repeated his demand for extra restrictive modifications, corresponding to inserting strict limits on parole and reviving the Trump-era “Stay in Mexico” coverage that pressured migrants who couldn’t be saved in detention amenities to attend exterior the US till their court docket dates.
And a few Republican opponents of the border compromise have questioned the knowledge of bothering to contemplate it within the Senate if their counterparts within the Home are decided to dam or kill it.
“When you’re going to take a tricky vote, you need it to really accomplish one thing,” stated Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio. “If it’s not going to go the Home, then it doesn’t make a ton of sense to drive a vote in your membership that isn’t going to perform something from a coverage perspective, and it’s going to trigger loads of issues politically.”
There have been political dangers for Mr. Biden and Democrats as properly in embracing robust border measures which have enraged progressives.
Immigration advocates took Mr. Biden’s assertion as a betrayal from a president who had campaigned on taking a humane strategy to the border. Some warned him towards getting into a race with Republicans over who may outmuscle a border crackdown that the advocates stated would result in chaos and struggling.
“What does President Biden need his legacy to be?” stated Heidi Altman, director of coverage for the Nationwide Immigrant Justice Heart. “The president is asking to commerce the lives and rights of individuals looking for security for a failed political technique, and it’s shameful.”
Michael D. Shear, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Hamed Aleaziz contributed reporting.