Latinx Files: The border deal is dead. What’s next?

Alex Padilla, Joe Biden and Mike Johnson
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / De Los; Photos by Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times; AP; Getty )

Senate Republicans, with the help of some Democrats, blocked a bipartisan deal Wednesday that paired aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with tougher immigration restrictions.

For months, GOP leadership has been adamant that they would not vote in favor of any foreign military aid to U.S. allies without legislation that addressed the so-called crisis at the border. President Biden, who has made Ukraine a cornerstone of his foreign policy, acquiesced and backed a bill negotiated by a small group of senators from both sides of the aisle that would make it harder for migrants to be granted asylum, would facilitate expulsions and would curb presidential discretion on parole. The proposed legislation notably did not include any provisions that would grant a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers and DACA recipients, a departure from past failed efforts at comprehensive immigration reform.

Biden’s support of the bill drew criticism from members of his own party.

“The deal includes a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less,” said Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) in a statement.


“Democrats, you’re never going to be cruel enough, ‘tough’ enough, anti-immigrant enough or able to deport your way to the negotiating table with [Senate Republican leader Mitch] McConnell and MAGA,” said Julian Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration. “Stop playing their game. Don’t act out of fear. Offer a positive vision on immigration instead. America needs it.”

Despite the concessions, Republicans began to turn on any potential deal after Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, came out against it.

“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,” Trump said at a Las Vegas rally on Saturday. “I’ll fight it all the way. A lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me. I say, that’s OK. Please blame it on me. Please.”

On Sunday, before the final text of the Senate bill had been unveiled, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R- La.) declared that it had no chance of being passed into law. “If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival,” he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It never made it that far. The bill met its demise Wednesday after a 49-50 vote that saw four Senate Democrats, including Padilla, side with the majority of Republicans.

So where does this leave the prospect of comprehensive immigration reform? In limbo, the same place it has been for the last three decades. Over that period, the issue has become a political liability for Democrats and a handy electoral weapon for Republicans, one which Trump has made it very clear he plans to wield as he tries to make his way back to the White House.

More from the Los Angeles Times

Column: Mayorkas isn’t to blame for the border mess. House Republicans should look in the mirror


How a California Republican helped tank Mayorkas’ impeachment vote

Column: A Republican senator got the border deal the GOP said it wanted. Watch while his party betrays him

Column: The border crisis is real. That’s why Trump is blocking solutions

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Latinx Files
(Jackie Rivera / For The Times; Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times)

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