“We’re still swapping paper like we have been,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Thursday afternoon. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
Senate Republicans on Thursday made their latest offer on border policy changes, including a list of demands Democrats have so far shunned.
Republicans are seeking a ban on class-based “parole,” a key tool the White House has used to create legal entry pathways and manage the influx at the border, according to two people familiar with the details of the list of demands. Their latest offer would ban the administration’s ability to extend parole for migrants — a policy change that would also apply to Afghans and Ukrainians who have been authorized to live in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons.
The GOP offer also proposes the creation of a new expulsion authority, reviving a form of the policy known as Title 42, and would also set metrics for automating a border shutdown — halting U.S. acceptance of migrants if border numbers hit a certain level.
Republicans are also looking to restrict the administration’s parole authority to release migrants from detention, and would require mandatory electronic monitoring for anyone, including children, who are not detained. They are also trying to implement a so-called transit ban and establish nationwide, expedited removal authority — a return to a Trump-era policy that the Biden administration rescinded in 2021.
While the GOP’s counteroffer helped jump-start talks after a failed Senate vote this week, the inclusion of policies already rejected by Democrats raises questions about whether a bipartisan proposal could come together before Congress breaks for the year. At a minimum, it showcases how much daylight remains in cutting a border deal that can unlock billions in funding for Ukraine and Israel.
An aide to Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the top Republican negotiator, said there is “no final draft.”
“Lankford has been clear that they have been exchanging paper for weeks,” the aide said.
Lankford and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) met Thursday before breaking for the weekend, agreeing to resume negotiations that have proved incredibly difficult to finalize. Even if they were to agree on policy changes in the abstract, they would still have to formalize those into actual legislative language. And it remains unclear whether anything the Senate passes could find the necessary support in the House.
Pressure is not just coming from Republicans either. Most of the items proposed by the GOP are opposed by progressives and immigration advocates, and Murphy has complained that Republicans are pushing a total shutdown of the border in previous offers.
“We’re still swapping paper like we have been,” said Lankford on Thursday afternoon, after meeting with Murphy. “It’s not just parole, it’s how do you handle thousands of people being released every day?”
Spokespeople for the other negotiating senators did not comment.