Senate Republicans link immigration demands to Ukraine aid

November 7, 2023

A group of Senate Republicans on Monday unveiled a list of immigration reform measures they want attached to any further aid to Ukraine for its war against Russia.

The group, led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and James Lankford (R-OK), have been in talks with a wider cross-section of their party’s conference. They’re demanding a number of changes to immigration and asylum policies, including the resumption of construction of the Trump Administration’s border wall. 

Their one-page plan also includes increased pay for Border Patrol agents, a crack down on humanitarian parole for undocumented migrants, and denial of asylum to migrants who cross through third countries considered safe before coming to the U.S. via Mexico.

The Senate Republicans’ demands, which have so far met with resistance from Democrats, comes as Congress is facing a 10-day deadline to fund the federal budget for fiscal year 2024 to avoid a government shutdown.

Last week, House Republicans brushed off a  $106 billion spending package requested by President Biden that would fund U.S.-Mexico border security, aid for Ukraine and aid for Israel, instead passing a standalone funding bill for Israel to aid its war with Hamas. That legislation would tie Israeli funding to cuts in the IRS, dooming the House GOP’s package in the Democratic-led Senate.

Elements of the new Senate GOP proposal were drawn from the House-passed Secure the Border Act of 2023, which Senate Democrats have also dismissed as a non-starter.

On Sunday, proposal sponsor Sen. Graham said he expects the Senate will pass a bill aiding both Israel and Ukraine despite the House’s doomed Israel-only package.

“I am for Ukraine support,” Graham told CNN. “We can’t pull the plug on Ukraine, let Putin get away with this. There goes Taiwan if you do that. I’m definitely for Israel. So I think you will see a package of border security, funding for Ukraine, funding for Israel coming out of the Senate probably as one package. I would support that.”

Graham has also cautioned, “We’re not going to get a package through that doesn’t get control of the border.”

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