WASHINGTON (AP) — A deal to provide more U.S. aid to Ukraine by the end of the year appears increasingly out of reach for the president. Joe Biden. The impasse deepens in Congress despite dire warnings from the White House about the consequences of inaction, while Republicans insist on linking aid to others. changes to American immigration and border policies.
After the The Democratic president declared last week ready to “make significant compromises on the border,” Republicans quickly revived demands they had previously shelved, hardening their positions and attempting to shift negotiations to the right, according to one person close to the talks and who was not authorized to discuss them publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The latest proposal, from top GOP negotiator Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., was presented in a meeting with a select group of senators before they left Washington Thursday afternoon. That could force the White House to consider ideas that many Democrats will seriously oppose, throwing new obstacles into the difficult negotiations.
Biden faces the prospect of a cornerstone of its foreign policy — which has prevented Russian President Vladimir Putin from overtaking Ukraine — is crumbling as U.S. support for war financing wanes, particularly among Republicans. White House says failure to approve more aid by year’s end could have catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and its ability to fight.
To preserve U.S. support, the Biden administration has quietly engaged in Senate discussions on border policy in recent weeks, providing assistance to the small group of senators trying to reach an agreement and communicating the political changes that it would deem acceptable.
The president is trying to satisfy GOP demands to reduce the historic number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border while alleviating Democrats’ fears that legal immigration would be stifled by drastic measures.
As negotiations hesitated to resume last week, Democrats warned Republicans that time to reach a deal was running out. Congress is expected to leave Washington in mid-December for the recess.
“Republicans need to show that they are serious about reaching compromise, not just throwing Donald Trump’s border policies to the ground,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday. , before the Republicans presented their counterproposal.
But the new Republican proposal is rooted in policy changes that led Democrats to walk away from negotiations, according to the person familiar with the talks. The Republican Party’s offer calls for ending the humanitarian parole program currently in place for existing categories of migrants: Ukrainians, Afghans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. This idea had been practically abandoned before.
Additionally, these migrant groups would not be allowed to be paroled again if the terms of their stay expire before their cases are adjudicated in immigration proceedings.
Republican senators have proposed monitoring systems such as ankle bracelets for people, including children, detained at the border and awaiting parole. Republicans want to prohibit people from seeking asylum if they have transited through another country where they could have applied for asylum. Republican lawmakers also want to restore executive powers that would allow a president to block entry for a variety of reasons.
Additionally, after migrant encounters at the border recently reached historic numbers, the Republican Party’s proposal would establish new guidelines requiring the border to be closed if illegal crossings reach a certain limit.
Lankford declined to discuss details after Thursday’s meeting, but said he was trying to “negotiate in good faith.” He said the historic number of migrants at the border cannot be ignored. The large numbers of people arriving at the border have overwhelmed the asylum system, he said, making it impossible for authorities to adequately vet the people they allow in.
“Do you want large numbers of undocumented, unchecked people to be without work permits, without access to the rest of the economy? » said Lankford.
The lead Democratic negotiator, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, did not respond quickly to the GOP proposal.
Senators had made some progress in negotiations before Thursday, finding general agreement on raising the initial standards for migrants to enter the asylum system — part of what’s known as the credible fear system. The administration has signaled that it welcomes the change and may agree to expand expedited expulsions to expel immigrants before they have been heard by an immigration judge, according to two people informed of the private negotiations and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Immigration advocates and progressives in Congress have been alarmed by the direction of the negotiations, particularly because they have not presented changes aimed at expanding legal immigration.
Robyn Barnard, director of refugee advocacy at Human Rights First, called the current state of negotiations “a moment of absolute crisis.” She warned that expanding expedited deportation could lead to mass roundups of immigrants across the country and compared the situation to the situation under the Trump administration. “Communities across the country would live in fear,” she said.
But Republican senators, sensing that Biden, who is campaigning for a second term, wants to address faced with the historic number of people arriving at the border, took an aggressive stance and attempted to directly involve the president in negotiations.
“The White House is going to have to be especially engaged if Senate Democrats are not willing to do what we’re suggesting we do,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said at a news conference Thursday.
The White House has so far refused to take a leading role in the negotiations. “Democrats have said they want to compromise. Have that conversation,” White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre said.
After all Republican senators voted last week not to move forward with legislation that would provide tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Ukraine, many senators remained in a sour mood . Even those who remained hopeful for a deal acknowledged it would be difficult to get a package through the Senate at this late stage.
Even if senators reach an agreement, the obstacles to its passage in the House are considerable. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., reported he will fight for sweeping changes in immigration policy that go beyond what is being discussed in the Senate. Additionally, broad support from House Democrats is far from guaranteed, as progressives and Hispanic lawmakers have raised alarms over restricting access to asylum.
“Exchanging Ukrainian lives for those of asylum seekers is morally bankrupt and irresponsible,” Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Ill., posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as part of a campaign coordinated by Hispanic Democrats.
The heaviness of the issue left even Lankford, who was one of the few senators optimistic that a deal could be reached this year, acknowledging the difficulty of reaching an agreement in the coming days.
“There are a whole bunch of political issues that tie into this,” he said as he left the Capitol for the week. “It’s been thirty years since the problem was solved because it’s incredibly complicated. »
Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.
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