Hispanic Caucus chair bashes Senate border deal

The head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is bashing the Senate’s new border security and foreign aid package, saying it will exacerbate the problems on the southern border rather than fix them.

“There are some good provisions in the bill,” Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

“However, there are many more that are not in line with our values, take away due process safeguards in our asylum system, could make matters worse at the Southern Border, and more importantly, fail to include protections and legal pathways for our Dreamers or the greater undocumented community that calls America home.”

The objections come as no surprise. Barragán has long been critical of the Senate negotiations that led to Sunday’s agreement, denouncing the process — for excluding any members of the Hispanic Caucus — and the early reports of the policy changes, particularly those restricting migration.

Her critical statement following the official release of the bill echoed those same concerns.

“Imagine a civil rights or criminal justice bill negotiated without the Congressional Black Caucus at the table. That would not happen — rightfully so,” she said. “The CHC has been the lead voice in Congress on this issue.”

Barragán’s disfavor marks the latest complication in the effort by Democratic leaders in the White House and Congress to secure a long-sought victory on tougher border security — a major vulnerability for President Biden heading into November’s election — and new funding for Ukraine, Israel and humanitarian relief in Gaza.

While House GOP leaders have rejected the Senate bill — and are vowing to prevent it from getting a floor vote — the dissent from liberals in both chambers is undermining Democratic unity and dulling accusations from party leaders that Republicans are solely to blame for blocking any substantial progress on border security.

The Hispanic Caucus boasts 40 members in the House, and their criticisms of the Senate legislation are similar to denunciations from other House liberals, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), head of the Progressive Caucus.

The condemnation from the left is also an early indication that Democrats would lack the support to bring the Senate package to the House floor with a discharge petition — a procedural gambit that forces votes on bills opposed by the majority party’s leaders.

The Senate deal, which has been endorsed by both Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), poses a greater challenge for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who will be pulled between the competing pressures of backing the package — to align himself with Biden — or joining the many liberals in his caucus in condemning it in the name of protecting human rights.

Barragán, for her part, provided Democratic leaders a little bit of space to operate, stopping just short of saying she would vote against the Senate package. But her harsh rebuke strongly suggested that that would be the case.

“I know it was a challenge to get there, since Republicans continue to hold hostage any funding requested by the President to address challenges at the Southern Border and critical funding for our allies,” Barragán said.

“But we cannot just throw up our hands and accept bad immigration policies that gut asylum and could set back real bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform ten to fifteen years, for temporary aid.”

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