Speaking of loopholes

The Firm of Schumer & McConnell (as Senator Lee calls it) released the text of the “bipartisan border bill” last night. The text is posted here. It’s part of an “emergency” supplemental appropriations bill that runs to 370 pages.

The proponents of the bill have also released a 19-page summary. Fox News reporter Bill Melugin has posted his take on the bill’s highlights on X beginning here.

Senator Schumer wants to call the bill up for an initial procedural vote on Wednesday. Speed is of the essence. One might hazard the guess that is because the closer we look the worse it gets. Listening to Senator Lankford promote the bill, I think that any good the bill allegedly does is illusory.

According to Senator McConnell, the bill closes “the asylum loophole.” NRO quotes him: “Right now ‘asylum’ is a magic word that lets aliens stay indefinitely in the United States. The Border Act places asylum seekers in expedited removal to screen them all within 90 days and deliver final judgments within 180 days — as opposed to the decade or more that it currently takes.”

“Loopholes” leap out of the Wall Street Journal’s brief summary of a few relevant provisions (in this story posted late last night):

At the border, the bill sets up a new process under which migrants are rapidly processed, so large numbers are no longer released into the U.S. with court dates years into the future. Migrants will either be detained or released with monitoring devices, such as ankle bracelets, and given an initial screening interview within 90 days. The standard migrants must clear to pass that interview has been tightened. For example, a migrant must prove that they [sic] couldn’t first safely relocate somewhere else in their [sic] home country to be eligible for asylum.

Those who don’t pass the new, heightened screening can be immediately deported. Those who do pass should receive a final decision within another 90 days. Still, those windows are targets rather than hard deadlines, and migrants won’t be deported if the process drags on.

In addition, the bill sets up a temporary new authority modeled after Title 42, the Trump pandemic-era policy that allowed the government to turn away migrants without needing to consider their asylum claims. Under that new power, which is authorized for three years, the government can “shut down” the border to asylum seekers if crossings surpass a daily average of 4,000 a day for at least seven days—roughly half the daily crossings seen in recent months. The shutdown becomes mandatory at 5,000 a day. The idea is to ensure the government’s detention capacity doesn’t get overwhelmed when illegal crossings climb too high. The border then couldn’t reopen until crossings fall to under 75% of the trigger point.

President Biden promptly released a statement supporting the bill. This from the man who created the “emergency” that the bill allegedly mitigates: “If you believe, as I do, that we must secure the border now, doing nothing is not an option.”

If Biden believes that the border must be secured, one wonders why he garishly opened it on the first day of his administration. One wonders why he doesn’t do a goddamn thing about it right now. Jeffrey Anderson explains the Biden plan in the City Journal column “Border crisis by design.”

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