Speaker Johnson's Spine Stiffens as Senate Republicans Try to Surrender on the Border

AP Photo/Eric Gay

House Speaker Mike Johnson is pushing back on the immigration deal being negotiated between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate. That comes via a new report that includes several quotes from GOP senators urging Johnson to accept what they send over.


Speaker Mike Johnson is publicly and privately panning the Senate’s ongoing border and immigration negotiations. Senate Republicans are reminding him that it's the best deal he'll ever get.

Republicans senators said on Tuesday that they see only worse opportunities ahead to craft a border bill that can pass, given that Democrats who run the Senate and White House are now considering major changes to asylum policy, new expulsion authorities and perhaps even putting limits on presidential parole authority. If Republicans try to wait for a better deal after November's election, senators say, they could end up with GOP control over Congress and the White House — but Democrats who are in no mood to deal on the issue.

There are a lot of problems with the argument that this is the "best" deal Republicans can get. Namely, the fact that if a "deal" results in a worse situation, then it would be preferable to have no deal. 

So what's in the deal? We don't know for certain if the details have changed, but we know what the bullet points were just a few days ago. Johnson himself panned it online, giving a firm "no" to what was leaked. 

Over the weekend, Johnson posted on X “absolutely not” in response to a Fox News screen that criticized a potential border deal; Thune responded that “unfortunately, there's a lot of stuff leaked out there which doesn't reflect some of what’s being discussed and negotiated."


Thune is welcome to share with us what's inaccurate in the reporting on the deal. He didn't do that, though, which leaves us only with what we know so far. As RedState reported, the provisions shown (which Johnson reacted to) would be disastrous. 

SEE: Proposed GOP Immigration Deal With Leave Your Blood Boiling

Under this deal, every single person who is released from custody into the interior would receive a work permit. That would escalate the number of people rushing to the border because the chances of not only getting in illegally but also being given work authorization would be greatly increased compared to the current situation. Yes, this "deal" would actually have the opposite effect of slowing the crisis at the border. It is literally putting the carrot on the stick and waving it around.

Next, there's spending for lawyers for mentally incompetent illegal aliens, which you get to pay for, and then we get to the supposed "wins" for border hawks. The administration would be able to release 5,000 illegal immigrants into the interior a day while also giving them work permits as mentioned above. Again, we might as well start running ads in Central America telling people to come cross the border. 5,000 entries a day is 150,000 people a month, which is far more than historical norms without these new limits. 

Any deal that starts handing out work permits while allowing 150,000 entries into the interior a month (and that assumes the Biden administration honors the limit) would only escalate the rush of people arriving at the Southern Border. The only possible improvement in the deal would be an adjustment to asylum law that requires people to show up at a port of entry, but the devil is in the details. What happens to those who still cross between ports of entry? Are they automatically expelled? I highly doubt that would be the case. 


These are the kinds of things that matter when trying to decide whether this deal would actually be a downgrade from the status quo. That's hard to fathom, but as with all things in life, you can indeed take a terrible thing and make it even worse. To me, the biggest factor in securing the Southern Border is removing the incentives to come. From what we know so far about this deal, it doesn't do that. Not even close. 

Johnson is right to say no unless serious, substantive changes are made. If Democrats don't want that, then they can own the crisis heading into a major election. It's their choice. 


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