Block border bill, urges Trump

US Republican front-runner Donald Trump said he wants to be held responsible for blocking a bipartisan border security bill. Picture: AFP

US Republican front-runner Donald Trump said he wants to be held responsible for blocking a bipartisan border security bill. Picture: AFP

Published Jan 29, 2024


US Republican front-runner Donald Trump said he wants to be held responsible for blocking a bipartisan border security bill in the works in the Senate as President Joe Biden seeks emergency authority to rein in a record surge of unauthorised border crossings.

“There is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,” Trump told a rowdy crowd of supporters at a rally in Las Vegas on Saturday, ahead of the state’s presidential caucus on February 8.

“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 okay.

Please blame it on me. Please.” Trump’s opposition follows Biden’s statement on Friday praising the deal and pledging to use its new authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” – a striking shift as he signalled openness to asylum restrictions and other enforcement measures that were previously unacceptable to Democrats. “If given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law,” Biden said.

The increase in apprehensions at the southwest border has become a top-level policy challenge for the Biden administration and a core theme of Trump’s bid for a rematch this November.

Biden’s management of the southern border and immigration is his worst-rated issue in polls, while survey respondents trust Trump more on the issue.

Trump said he opposed the bill because the presidential powers were unnecessary, echoing the position of House Speaker Mike Johnson (Republican), who on Saturday called the proposal “dead on arrival” in his chamber.

“If Joe Biden truly wanted to secure the border, he doesn’t really need a bill,” Trump said in the Las Vegas speech. “I did it without a bill.”

But Trump has also acknowledged political motivations in seeking to block the bill to deny Biden another bipartisan legislative accomplishment.

“A Border Deal now would be another Gift to the Radical Left Democrats,” Trump said on Thursday.

“They need it politically.” Measures under discussion include an expansion of the government’s deportation powers and an ability to deny migrants access to the asylum system when the number of daily crossings surpasses 5000.

Illegal crossings on the US-Mexico border were recorded at about 250000 last month, the highest monthly total ever, and administration officials said the most of the migrants were released into the country with pending claims for protection. New York, Chicago, Denver and other cities are pleading for more federal aid to shelter and assist the newcomers, including the thousands of migrants sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican.

Trump on Saturday threw his support behind Abbott for declaring an “invasion.” On Thursday, he encouraged other states to send National Guard troops to Texas. During his Saturday speech, he said as president he would “deploy all necessary military and law enforcement resources”.

He also repeated a campaign promise to launch “the largest domestic deportation operation in US history.”

Trump has steadily escalated his use of inflammatory language to describe immigrants, accusing them of “poisoning the blood of our country”, drawing condemnation from civil rights groups.

On Saturday, he repeated his descriptions of the migration wave as an “invasion” and described Biden’s management as “a crime against our nation” and “an atrocity against our Constitution”.

“Joe will not get away with these crimes,” Trump said. “With your vote, you will be judged and convicted by the American people of this atrocity he’s done.”

The Biden campaign slammed Trump’s remarks as going against the nation’s interests.

“Donald Trump demonstrated he’s campaigning against solutions for the American people, and is rooting against America,” campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa said.

“President Biden is the only candidate focused on governing and addressing the issues the American people demand action on.”

Trump has also attacked his sole remaining primary opponent, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, for having opposed his border wall and ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries.

A campaign ad that ran in Iowa and New Hampshire media markets included clips of migrants slipping through the steel slats of Trump’s signature border wall, while promising he would build “even more wall”.

Trump has consistently made attacks on immigrants a centrepiece of his campaigns.

Cape Times