Democrats Look to Limit New Immigration Powers, Wary of Trump Election

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Firm News

Senators currently engaged in discussions on potential U.S. immigration restrictions tied to Ukraine aid are actively exploring measures to prevent potential misuse of executive powers by future presidents.

Democrats are advocating for a “safety valve” in policies to avoid cruelty and mass roundups, considering the possibility of enhanced powers without limits leading to unintended consequences under a future administration with attitudes similar to former President Donald Trump. This forms a central point of contention as Republicans seek broader presidential powers to address what they view as a chaotic border situation.

One significant disagreement involves GOP senators pushing for expanded discretionary powers for the president to close the border, raising concerns among Democrats about potential abuse, particularly given past experiences. Democrats are open to strengthening expedited removal powers for new migrants but draw a firm line against extending such measures to deportations from within the country, citing fears of mass targeting, racial profiling, and the deportation of long-time residents, including U.S. citizens.

Some progressive voices within the Democratic camp argue for a complete rejection of new border crackdown policies, citing concerns over inflammatory rhetoric and authoritarian aspirations akin to those voiced by former President Trump. Democrats are wary of granting expanded nationwide expedited removal powers without clear limitations, fearing potential misuse by a future administration.

While Democrats emphasize the need to prevent executive power abuse, Republicans are pushing for more robust authorities for the executive branch, expressing concerns that the Biden administration might be too lenient on asylum seekers and fail to reduce border flows.

The ongoing negotiations highlight the fundamental tension between Democrats and Republicans, with discussions continuing over the weekend without a final agreement. A potential compromise involves exploring a “trigger” mechanism for expedited removal at the border, with specific criteria such as the number of migrants seeking asylum acting as a threshold. The aim is to ensure that discretion is limited and the president must act under well-defined circumstances.

The ultimate success of any agreement hinges on the text’s specifics, considering the voting dynamics in the Senate and the House, where Republicans are advocating for more extensive policies to restrict migration. As negotiations persist, President Biden faces pressures from immigration advocates within his party while navigating the delicate balance of addressing border concerns and avoiding a repeat of Trump-era policies.