Just hours before the Title 42 restrictions were lifted at the southern border, the Republican-led House narrowly passed legislation to address illegal immigration and secure the border which House Majority Leader Steve Scalise described as “the strongest border security package” Congress has ever presented, NBC News reported.
In a 219 to 213 vote, the House passed the Secure the Border Act of 2023. Two Republican lawmakers, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie and California Rep. John Duarte, joined the Democrats in voting against the measure.
The legislation mandates that Customs and Border Protection hire and train an additional 22,000 Border Patrol agents. It would also require Customs and Border Protection to present a plan to upgrade the current technology used at the border to ensure Border Patrol agents are properly equipped. The bill also mandates that the Department of Homeland Security immediately resume construction of the border wall.
However, the legislation is unlikely to pass in the Senate where Democrats maintain a slim majority. And if the bill does squeak through the Senate, aided by moderate Democrats who are up for reelection in 2024, the White House has already threatened to veto the measure.
In a statement last Monday reiterating the Biden administration’s policy on immigration, the White House said while the administration supports immigration reform, it would oppose the House bill.
The White House maintained that the bill does “nothing to address the root causes of migration” while reducing “humanitarian protections” and restricting “lawful pathways.”
The White House argued that while the administration welcomes engagement from Congress on addressing immigration, the Republican bill will “make things worse, not better.” The White House called for the legislation to be rejected, claiming it would do “very little” to increase security at the border while trampling on the country’s “core values and international obligations.”