(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, voted in favor of a bipartisan border security compromise that failed in the United States Senate on Wednesday.
The National Security Supplemental failed 49-50; four Republicans voted in favor of it, while all but five Democrats supported it. Fellow U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, also voted yes on the bill.
Lujan had privately expressed concerns about the bill and attempted to meet with top-level White House officials during its negotiation process, according to The Associated Press.
However, just because Lujan voted yes on the bill, that did not mean he was happy with the border security measures in the bill. Rather, he said in a press release that while something needs to be done about the border, he supported the military aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan in the $118 billion bill.
“Amid unrest around the world, there is an urgent need for a strong national security supplemental to aid our allies in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific,” Lujan said. “The world is watching, and the U.S. must make it clear that our support for democracy remains steadfast.
“I am extremely disappointed that Congress finds itself in a position where critical national security aid is now conditioned on changes to our immigration system,” he added. “And even more troubling is that Republicans refuse to take yes for an answer.
Additionally, he used the statement as an opportunity to excoriate Republicans, most of whom voted against the bill.
“While the immigration provisions in this supplemental are far from perfect — and I have consistently voiced concern over the lack of input from Hispanic and border-state lawmakers — I believe it is necessary for Congress to address the current situation at the border, which is why I voted for this package,” Lujan said.
“I am concerned that Republicans, at the direction of the former president, blocked this deal for partisan political reasons,” he added. “Republicans made it clear they are more focused on playing politics with the border rather than addressing national security.”
The bill featured a provision that would have let the Department of Homeland Security shut down the border if too many migrants tried to cross it.
If the border averaged over 4,000 migrant crossings over seven days, DHS would have had the option to close the border; however, if it exceeded more than 5,000 per day over seven days — or 8,500 in any given day — then DHS would have been able to shut down the border.
The bill also said that the border could not be shut down for over 270 days in the first year and that the president could have suspended the border closure for up to 45 days on an emergency basis.
Even during the closures, Border Patrol would have had to process a minimum of 1,400 migrants who tried to enter the United States through legal ports of entry. Yet, it would have allowed unaccompanied minors to cross between ports of entry; anyone else who attempted to cross the border illegally at least two times during a border emergency would have been banned from entering the United States for a year.
Plus, the bill would have ended catch-and-release, instead setting a rule where those who entered the country through legal ports of entry would have stayed under federal supervision while completing the asylum process instead of being released into the country. It would have also funded up to 77 repatriation flights per day.