Republicans rush to throw each other under the bus for Trump

The Senate has passed a bipartisan immigration bill three decades in the making. Donald Trump is working to derail it. And many Republicans in Congress are rushing to help — even if it means throwing fellow conservative colleagues under the bus.

The bill contains plenty to offend both sides. It provides resources to accelerate asylum review, which has long suffered from intentional Congressional underfunding. It toughens border enforcement while supplementing the physical barrier. It increases the number of Border Patrol agents, asylum officers, detention beds and deportation flights out, to more quickly process and deport people, ending “catch-and-release.” It relaxes some work restrictions to reduce the burden on host communities. If, on any given day, migrants surge and overwhelm resources (a maximum of 5,000 people), the U.S. will close the border.

Republicans should be doing backflips. The bill presents the most enforcement-forward legislation ever passed out of either chamber. After calling the surge at the border an “invasion” for the past three years, Trump loyalists recently organized a border caravan at the border complete with confederate flags and bathtub baptisms. After blaming immigration for threats to our national sovereignty, health and safety, reform is urgent, they say, as terrorist attacks on American soil are imminent. 

GOP senators who have invested serious time into the current effort are not happy about Trump’s latest command.

Despite the hyped-up hysteria, amplified on the hour by Fox News, Republicans intend to kill their own success to aid Trump’s reelection efforts. Trump doesn’t want immigration solved this year because border legislation, if signed into law, could give President Biden bragging rights going into the November election. Better to preserve and even worsen the optics of a border “crisis” to use as a political weapon against Biden. 

Speaker Mike Johnson, who spearheaded Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has therefore declared that the Senate’s new immigration proposal will be “dead on arrival” in the House. 

“This is a very bad bill for his career,” the ex-president said Monday about Oklahoma’s James Lankford, the GOP’s chief negotiator on the issue in the Senate. 

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who raised a fist in solidarity with the J6 mob before he ran in fear, backed Trump up on Fox, saying, there’s “no reason to agree to (immigration) policies that would further enable Joe Biden.”

“I think the proposal is dead,” Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker said shortly after Trump’s statement and after a meeting in Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s office. McConnell, who deputized Lankford to craft the most conservative immigration legislation accepted by both parties in decades, recommended a NO vote to his caucus on Monday. 

Doing Trump’s political bidding instead of protecting the American public as they are sworn to do, Trump loyalists are jeopardizing national security to please a strongman who tried to stay in power by force. 

Republicans are killing painstaking progress 

A strong majority of Americans across party lines want Congress to fix immigration. Despite ongoing public demand for comprehensive reform, Congress has failed to act for decades, largely due to Republicans’ shifting perceptions of political liability vs. expediency.

Senators who have invested serious time into the current effort are not happy about Trump’s latest command. Lankford  said on Fox News that Republicans who clamored for immigration reform for so long were apparently “just kidding… (they) actually don’t want a change in law because it’s a presidential election year.”  

For his part, Trump is anxious for everyone to know that he’s the puppeteer killing the deal. He brags about it at rallies.  According to Trump, “A Border Deal now would be another Gift to the Radical Left Democrats. They need it politically, but don’t care about our Border…” Smugly framing immigration as the seminal issue for his own campaign, he then posted, “If you want to have a really Secure Border, your ONLY HOPE is to vote for TRUMP2024.”

Republicans move to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas to deflect from their own malfeasance

Right-wing Republicans have used immigration to bludgeon political foes for decades. The late Republican Senator John McCain blamed the Freedom Caucus ten years ago for killing immigration reform just to preserve it as a political weapon.

To deflect from their own perfidy, and to offset the optics of nonstop chaos, dysfunction and extremism under Johnson’s helm, House Republicans have pivoted entirely from fixing the border to a full frontal assault on Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. Johnson, who promised to move the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas quickly, hopes to shift media attention away from his own subservience to Trump by serving up the drama of a Biden cabinet impeachment.

In what Democrats have called a “remarkably fact-free affair,” Mayorkas would be the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached since 1876. Republicans have now voted to advance the impeachment articles through a resolution claiming Mayorkas committed high crimes and misdemeanors, without identifying either a high crime or a misdemeanor; differing interpretations of how best to execute existing law is neither. 

Republicans are not wrong about a dramatic increase in border crossings, which are part of the largest recorded global movement of displaced people since World War II. Following an unprecedented spike in the number of migrant crossings, Biden embraced the bipartisan border fix, which would also unlock GOP support for Ukraine and other national security measures. 

Adapting to the surge in migrants, Biden has demonstrated a strong willingness to compromise by accepting an enforcement-heavy border deal that wouldn’t have been acceptable three years ago, even though the surge is attributed to factors outside his control. People are fleeing economic collapse, political instability, wars and violence in Central America, South America, Africa, parts of Europe and the Middle East. Millions more are escaping regions rendered uninhabitable by climate change. The U.N. reports that in 2022, 84 percent of refugees and asylum seekers were fleeing highly climate-vulnerable countries, an increase from 61 percent in 2010. 

Although MAGA talking heads pin today’s border problems on Biden, a November 2023 study from Cato Institute found that migrants arrested at the southern border were far more likely to be released during Trump’s presidency than Biden’s. On a monthly basis, even though cash-strapped, Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has deported three times more border crossers than DHS deported under Trump.

MAGA craves another civil war over the southern border

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court, to the wild displeasure of Texas governor Greg Abbot, recently affirmed the right of federal Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire Texas installed along portions of the southern border. Effectively seizing the territory, Abbott strategically placed the Texas National Guard along the border to block federal border agents. 

Claiming the Constitutional right to “defend itself” against the border “invasion,” Texas is directly challenging federal sovereignty over the U.S. border. Demonstrating his acute ignorance of American history, Trump supports Texas’ challenge.

Since the Civil War, state power has been subordinate to federal power. The U.S. is not a confederation of 50 independent nation-states, much to the still-lingering resentment of some. Since the Supreme Court granted the Biden administration’s request to remove Texas’ razor wire, Abbott has remained defiant. Quoting from the 1860 South Carolina Succession Proclamation, Abbott claims the feds have “broken the compact between the United States and the States.” 

Not a word about Trump and Johnson’s insistence that the border remain broken to help Trump politically.  Not a word about 25 Republican governors cheering Abbott on, despite the GOP’s refusal to fix the problem. 

The destabilizing potential of challenging the feds’ territorial sovereignty is as real today as it was in 1860. It’s becoming clear that MAGA would prefer to re-litigate the Civil War- or embrace fascism- rather than accept changing demographics under which white Christians will lose their presumptive majority. 

Meanwhile, voters outside the MAGA bubble are disturbed by the plausible candidacy of a violent insurrectionist, a fatuous authoritarian pawing at the door of the White House to avoid spending time in the big house. 

Watching Trump assert his malign influence over the GOP without even holding office is compelling evidence, by now redundant, that the American experiment could succumb to his malignancy. To paraphrase, the only thing evil men need to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

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