Border Bill Negotiators Say Deal Could Help Trump—Will MAGA Listen?


Negotiators of the newly released bipartisan Senate border deal insist their bill would benefit former President Donald Trump should he retake the White House, but Trump and his supporters have remained unmoved.

Upon release of the border deal’s text on Sunday, the agreement was met with swift opposition. Trump called the deal “horrendous” on Truth Social, and House Speaker Mike Johnson wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the House, as he insisted that President Joe Biden has the authority to end the crisis now.

But during his presidency, Trump lamented the limitations on his power, criticizing the “endemic abuse of the asylum system” in a 2018 address and saying “the only way to ensure the endurance of our nation as a sovereign country is for Congress to overcome open borders obstruction.”

With the border averaging around 262,000 monthly crossings over the last three months and U.S. immigration courts facing a backlog of over 3 million, the issue remains pertinent. The bill’s negotiators, independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, say it would provide future presidents a greater ability to avoid such issues in the future.

“The last three presidents have all indicated very clearly, so that’s [Barack] Obama, Trump and Biden, have all said numerous times that we have to make changes to asylum policy so that we can stop the exploitation that’s currently occurring,” Sinema said in response to a question from Newsweek. “Our bill does that.”

Senators James Lankford and Kyrsten Sinema speak at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management on September 6, 2023, in Washington, D.C. As the panel’s…

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

As stipulated in the bill, if the border begins facing a seven-day average of 5,000 illegal daily crossings, an expulsion authority is triggered that prevents individuals who crossed illegally from making asylum claims by directing immigration officials to only hear claims made at ports of entry.

Under the current system, those who cross illegally can seek asylum once detained by border patrol. They are then allowed to stay in the U.S. while their claims are reviewed.

These claims are part of the 3 million-case backlog. Because those seeking asylum may wait in the U.S. while their case is reviewed, some migrants are incentivized to cross illegally and claim asylum so they can spend time building a life in the U.S. while their case makes its way through the backlog.

Under the border deal, the threshold to claim asylum would also be raised and asylum officers would be deployed to screen certain claims, lightening the workload of immigration judges. Proponents of the bill say this would alleviate the backlog and curb incentives for migrants to make false asylum claims.

“The change in the asylum law has been long needed and long discussed. That change is very significant,” Lankford told Newsweek. “That is a much faster process; then we’re not dealing with a 10-year backlog anymore, and that is a very significant shift.”

In addition to the asylum provisions, the bill—which Lankford and Sinema negotiated with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut—would provide $20 billion to hire new border agents, asylum officers and invest in technology. It would also add thousands more family- and employment-based visas, among other actions outlined in the 370-page bill.

The border agreement has received support from the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing border patrol, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Newsweek reached out to the Trump campaign via email for comment Monday night.