U.S. Senate negotiators on Sunday night released the text of a bipartisan border bill designed to clamp down on illegal crossings at the southern border.
Among those consulted about the bill was Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, whose jurisdiction includes San Antonio, which is about 150 miles from the Texas-Mexico border.
Salazar held a news conference on Monday to discuss his reaction to the bill.
“Representatives from the White House reached out to me. (I’m) happy to say they wanted me to weigh in on this bipartisan legislation that’s being introduced and debated later on this week,” he said.
Salazar said the bill addresses much of what he was concerned about. He read a prepared statement Monday.
“As a Texas sheriff who works quite well with my counterparts throughout the state regardless of party, I always appreciated a bipartisan approach to protecting and serving our community. This bill accomplishes just that,” he said.
Salazar said the bill dramatically improves public safety by increasing the number of first responders and equipping them with cutting-edge technology.
“Furthermore, this bill strikes an ideal balance between compassion and preserving the protection of our border. This comprehensive legislation allows us to manage the number of people crossing our southern border. It also streamlines the process for those coming to this country to seek gainful employment," he said.
Despite high marks from Salazar and others, the bill likely faces defeat in Congress. On Monday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recommended to GOP senators in a closed-door meeting that they vote against the first procedural vote Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the meeting who were not authorized to talk publicly about it and spoke anonymously.
Conservatives have savaged the border policy proposal as insufficient, with former President Donald Trump leading the charge.
House Speaker Mike Johnson has already called the proposal “dead on arrival” in the House if it passes the Senate, but President Joe Biden urged the Republican speaker to “pay attention to what the Senate’s doing.”
Salazar outlined some of the key provisions of the bill he said addressed his concerns. The bill:
- Provides critical funding for combating smuggling and drug trafficking, border security and asylum processing
- Strengthens federal law against fentanyl trafficking
- Increases lawful pathways to come to the United States
- Provides temporary emergency authority for the president to shut down the border when the system is overwhelmed
- Establishes an efficient and fair process for consideration of asylum and other protection claims by those arriving at our southwest border
If the bill fails, leaders would be left with no clear path to approve wartime aid to Ukraine.
The White House said Biden would veto a House bill that would only send military aid to Israel, criticizing it as a “cynical political maneuver” that excludes funding for Ukraine, the border and other national security needs.