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8 Dec, 2023 08:13

White House mulls trading migration laws for Ukraine cash – Reuters

US Republicans have demanded tighter border security in exchange for approving new funds for Kiev
White House mulls trading migration laws for Ukraine cash – Reuters

The administration of US President Joe Biden is considering tightening immigration controls in order to persuade the Republicans to sign on to a behemoth security package for Ukraine and Israel, Reuters reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday, GOP Senators blocked Biden’s flagship $111 billion supplemental funding request, which included aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, citing the Democrats’ reluctance to address the tense situation on the US-Mexico border. Some Republicans have also repeatedly criticized the White House for a lack of accountability with respect to the money sent to Ukraine.

The Biden administration is now reoprtedly open to raising the bar for initial asylum screenings as well as considering the introduction of a provision that would deny asylum to would-be immigrants who pass through a third “safe” country on their way to the US, according to the agency's source.

The agreement could also potentially include the expansion of an “expedited removal” procedure that could be employed not only in the border areas, but nationwide. A Reuters source added that the White House and Senate Republicans were also negotiating a numerical cap on asylum claims, although the administration’s position on the matter remains unclear.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Thom Tillis, who is involved in the talks, said that the GOP’s goal is to cut illegal immigration by at least 50%, adding that he did not know whether the two parties would reach a deal before the Christmas recess starts in mid-December.

Publicly, Biden said on Wednesday that he was willing to make “significant compromises on the border,” acknowledging that the system in the sphere is “broken” and needs to be fixed. He also accused the Republicans of “playing chicken with our national security” and “holding Ukraine’s funding hostage” to their border demands.

Meanwhile, White House officials have on several occasions warned that authorized US aid for Ukraine is drying up, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying on Thursday that Kiev can’t expect additional funding until the gridlock in Congress is resolved. Commenting on the situation, Andrey Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, suggested that delays in the US assistance could lead to Ukraine being defeated by Russia.

Since the start of the conflict in February 2022, Washington has provided Kiev with more than $100 billion in aid, including military equipment. Moscow has repeatedly warned the West against arming Kiev, saying this would only prolong the conflict without changing its outcome.

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