Bipartisan Senate group releases text of Ukraine-immigration agreement

The bipartisan group of Senators that have negotiated since late last year released the text of their legislation that would restrict immigration in exchange for aid to Ukraine and Israel.

The group–comprised of Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut–released the text of the legislation on Sunday night after months of back-and-forth.

President Joe Biden praised the bill on Sunday evening, calling it the “toughest and fairest” border reform legislation in “decades.”

“It will make our country safer, make our border more secure, treat people fairly and humanely while preserving legal immigration, consistent with our values as a nation,” Mr Biden said Sunday night. “It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed.”

“Now, House Republicans have to decide,” Mr Biden added. “Do they want to solve the problem? Or do they want to keep playing politics with the border? I’ve made my decision. I’m ready to solve the problem.”

Many Republicans in the Senate have continued to oppose the agreement. In addition, House Speaker Mike Johnson has said the agreement is “dead on arrival” in the House of Representatives. Conservatives in the House have said the legislation is insufficient and they have pushed their own legislation, known as the Secure the Border Act.

In addition, former president and presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has come out against the agreement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Mr Lankford’s work on the bill while attacking the Biden administration.

“President Biden’s campaign promise to welcome illegal aliens at the border overwhelmed a broken asylum system that unified Republican government had tried desperately to fix in the face of Democrat obstruction,” Mr McConnell said in a statement.

Republicans stipulated that they would not support additional aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin without restrictions to immigration.

During the weekend, Mr Johnson released standalone legislation to aid Israel. But House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries criticised the bill and said it was an attempt to kill the Senate bill.

“There is reason to believe that this eleventh-hour standalone bill is a cynical attempt to undermine the Senate’s bipartisan effort, given that House Republicans have been ordered by the former president not to pass any border security legislation or assistance for Ukraine,” Mr Jeffries wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter to Democratic members.

“Clearly, the most responsible legislative approach with respect to our national security needs is a comprehensive one,” Mr Jeffries added.

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