Senate Border Security Bill Text Explained—Five Key Takeaways


The Senate has released a $118 billion bipartisan border security bill after months of negotiations.

Congress has grappled with securing a deal amid concerns about the rising number of migrant encounters on the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of Southwest land border encounters has continued to increase over the past several months, with just over 300,000 reported in December.

Some Republicans have said they will only support additional aid to Ukraine if border security is prioritized. Others have been concerned about the level of spending in proposed legislation.

Asylum seekers wait to be processed at a camp near the US-Mexico border east of Jacumba, San Diego County, California, on January 2, 2024. Lawmakers have released a $118 billion national security deal to deter…

Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

At $118 billion, the bill would spend more than the $106 billion the White House initially requested.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced he would hold the first vote on the legislation on Wednesday.

Below, Newsweek has compiled five key takeaways from the bill.

Tougher Migration Rules

The bill would fund an increase in ICE detention capacity from 34,000 to 50,000. It would mean people who arrive in the U.S. illegally would not be able to claim amnesty and it would force the government to shut down the border at times where there is a 7-day rolling average of 5,000 encounters per day, or 8,500 encounters in a single day.

When encounters approach 4,000 people a day, the U.S. government would be granted the power to voluntarily turn away all people at border stations.

Asylum cases would also be fast tracked from years to months and there would be tougher asylum requirements, with claimants’ criminal history examined, as well as whether they could have resettled in another country on the way to the U.S.

It would create a new expedited removal authority to remove migrants who don’t qualify for asylum.

Boost To Border Patrol

The bill would also allocate $20 billion to immigration enforcement, including by hiring hundreds of Border Patrol agents and new officers to evaluate claims. It would also increase the number of deportation flights.

Aid For Ukraine And Israel

The bill also contains aid provisions. The aid package includes $14 billion in aid to Israel, $60 billion for Ukraine and $4.83 billion to Indo-Pacific nations. It also includes £10 billion in humanitarian aid to citizens in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.


The bill has seen some opposition among politicians with House Speaker Mike Johnson calling it “dead on arrival” in the chamber. This weekend, he had said he planned a vote in the House on billions in aid to Israel without money for Ukraine and the birder, before the release of the text.

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, said on X, formerly Twitter: “I’ve seen enough. This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created.”

Former President Donald Trump also opposes the deal.

The criticism is not confined to Republicans. Senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat of California, said in a statement that the proposal would cause “more chaos at the border, not less.”

…And Support

Nevertheless, the bill has attracted bipartisan support. Biden said in a statement that the Senate proposal “allows the United States to continue our vital work, together with partners all around the world, to stand up for Ukraine’s freedom and support its ability to defend itself against Russia’s aggression.”

He added that the immigration system had been broken for too long, and the bill would fix it. “It will make our country safer, make our border more secure, treat people fairly and humanely while preserving legal immigration, consistent with our values as a nation,” he said.

Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that the Senate must be “prepared to act.”

“America’s sovereignty is being tested here at home, and our credibility is being tested by emboldened adversaries around the world,” McConnell said. “The challenges we face will not resolve themselves, nor will our adversaries wait for America to muster the resolve to meet them.”