TALLAHASSEE, FL—Republicans are turning on President Biden's bipartisan immigration bill, claiming the measure will lead to increased immigration and drug trafficking into the country. Democrats, however, believe Republicans' flip-flopping is a ploy to keep immigration a top talking point for former President Donald Trump's election campaign.
President Biden is backing a $118 billion proposal increasing border enforcement and granting the president the power to expel migrants if the number of asylum-seekers are too "overwhelming" for authorities. It would also provide wartime aid to Ukraine and Israel. Though the bill initially enjoyed bipartisan support, Republicans are turning against it.
"The drug cartels are using current law against the United States in order to keep on fostering the illicit drug trade, sex trafficking, and human trafficking. When you come up with that immigration reform...you know who can read? The drug cartels. They know exactly what you're looking to pass," Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia told The Floridian.
"They're going to look at [Biden's bill], and say 'yep, we can drive a Mack truck through this,' except the Mack truck is going to be filled with fentanyl," He added. Between 2018 and 2022, fentanyl—a lethal opiate—trafficking offenses increased by 460.7 percent, causing these offenders to account for nearly 12 percent of all federal offenders sentenced for drug trafficking.
"I think the bill should be renamed the Illegal Immigration Normalization Act, because it's codifying a lot of the current principles in law that Biden has failed to do," He continued, noting the potential reason for Republicans' change in heart on Biden's bill. "I think what Senator Lankford was coming out with initially was a way to sort of soften the blow of what was coming, but when we saw the actual text it was actually worse than what he said it was going to be,"
Democrats claim that Republicans' change of heart on the bill is due to former President Trump's unwillingness to allow Biden an immigration win before the 2024 elections. Trump is running on a platform promising extreme crackdowns on immigration, leading Democrats to theorize that if Biden were to ameliorate the border issue, it would take away from Trump's campaign.
"I thought the idea was that Trump tried to kibosh it so he could continue to have it as a ripe platform during his campaign," Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo told The Floridian. "Let's keep it ripe and keep it relevant and keep it current for the race,"
“Just months ago, Republicans were asking for this exact bill to deal with the border, to provide support for Ukraine and Israel. And now it’s there. And they’re saying, ‘Nevermind. Nevermind,” Biden said last week.
Ingoglia also said that House Republicans worked against each other in impeaching Mayorkas.