President Joe Biden on Tuesday took direct aim at Republicans in Congress and the man they take direction from, former president Donald Trump, slamming both for blocking a carefully-crafted bipartisan compromise bill that would implement sweeping changes in the US immigration system and provision defence assistance funds for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
In remarks from the State Dining Room at the White House, Mr Biden described the legislation crafted by White House negotiators and a group of senators led by Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma, Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema as a “bipartisan agreement that represents the most fair, humane reforms in our immigration system in a long time and the toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever”.
He also acknowledged that at this time, “all indications” show the bill has no chance of advancing in either the House or Senate, and laid out the “simple reason” Republicans are blocking the bill.
“Why? A simple reason, Donald Trump,” he said. Bcause Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically, therefore … even though it helps the country he’s not for it — he’d rather weaponize this issue,” he said.
Mr Biden noted that Mr Trump has done “nothing” in the last day except “reach out to Republicans in the House and Senate, and threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal”.
“Frankly, they owe it to the American people to show some spine and do what they know to be right,” he said, adding that the bill has the support of the US Chamber of Commerce and the union representing rank-and-file border patrol agents.
He explained that the bill is the result of the “extraordinary effort” made by senate negotiators and said it has garnered the support of the business lobby and border union because it would “make the country safer, make the border more secure, treat people more humanely and fairly, and make legal immigration more efficient and consistent with the values of our nation and our international treaty obligations”.
“It would finally provide the funding that I’ve repeatedly repeatedly requested, most recently in October, to actually secure the border — that includes an additional 1500 border agents and officers to secure the border to physically secure it,” he said.
Mr Biden also explained how the bill would streamline the asylum process and give him new authority to close down the US-Mexico border when there are too many illegal crossings between ports of entry.
“The bottom line is this: This bipartisan bill is a win for America because it makes important fixes to our broken immigration system. And it’s the toughest Fairest law it’s ever been proposed relative to the border,” he said.
Continuing, the president pointed out that it would also fund defence needs for two US allies, Israel and Ukraine, the latter of which is in dire need of US assistance to continue fending off Russian forces.