Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Border Security Negotiators Can’t Hide From Constituents On Social Media; Election-Year Politics Threaten Senate Border Deal as Trump and His Allies Rally Opposition

 AP Photo/Edgar H. Clemente, File
Border security negotiators can’t hide from constituents on social media:
Senators trying to power through an amnesty for illegal immigrants in 2007 were met with an avalanche of phone calls and faxes from angry voters, who helped doom the legislation to defeat.
The Senate’s internet server shut down at one point, and the phone system was overloaded on the day of the vote. NumbersUSA, a grassroots pressure group, said it alone accounted for 1.5 million faxes during the weeks of debate.
Fast-forward to today. Congressional offices can ignore faxes, delete emails and send callers straight to voicemail. The one place they can’t escape constituents is on social media, and that’s where a new immigration pressure group plans to hound them.
The Immigration Accountability Project, founded last year by two veterans from NumbersUSA, says it wants to help constituents slip into lawmakers’ feeds with posts demanding a get-tough approach to border security and to arm voters for in-person conversations with lawmakers at grocery stores and town halls.
“One thing they can’t turn off is they can’t turn off their social media. So we hold members of Congress accountable by really targeting their social media handles,” said Chris Chmielenski, the project’s president.
The Immigration Accountability Project had its first major battle this month as it took to social media with leaked details of the Senate negotiations over a border security deal. The results created a firestorm online and a wave of anger among House Republicans who vowed to reject such a deal.
The Republican negotiators complained that the information was wrong but didn’t provide countering details, only fueling the anger, particularly against Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican. Some of the senator’s constituents took to his social media account to demand answers. The criticism crescendoed with commentators riled up over what they saw as his betrayal.
Rosemary Jenks, the Immigration Accountability Project’s director of government relations, said that was the intention.
“We are basically letting all the public know on social media what a member of Congress is doing behind closed doors and letting them react to that member of Congress,” she said. “This is the epitome of holding someone accountable for his actions.” --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/Eric Gay, File
Election-year politics threaten Senate border deal as Trump and his allies rally opposition
A politically treacherous dynamic is taking hold as negotiators in Congress work to strike a bipartisan deal on the border and immigration, with vocal opposition from the hard right and former President Donald Trump threatening to topple the carefully negotiated compromise.
Senators are closing in on the details of an agreement on border measures that could unlock Republican support for Ukraine aid and hope to unveil it as soon as next week. But the deal is already wobbling, as House Speaker Mike Johnson faces intense pressure from Trump and his House allies to demand more sweeping concessions from Democrats and the White House.
“I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions & Millions of people,” Trump posted on social media this week.
It’s a familiar political dynamic, one that has repeatedly thwarted attempts to reform U.S. immigration law, including in 2013 when House Republicans sought to pin illegal immigration on a Democratic president and in 2018 when Trump helped sink another bipartisan effort. The path for legislation this time around is further clouded by an election year in which Trump has once again made railing against illegal immigration a central focus of his campaign.
Even though the terms of the policy negotiations have shifted significantly in the Republicans’ direction, skepticism is running high among conservatives, creating a precarious moment that could determine not only the contours of U.S. immigration and border law for years to come, but the future of Ukraine as it faces dwindling U.S. supplies in its fight against Russia.
President Joe Biden is pressing lawmakers to say yes. During a White House meeting this week with congressional leaders that was meant to underscore how desperately Ukraine needs funding, the president said he was ready for a “big deal on the border.”
The president has reason to want an agreement. The historic number of migrants who have come to the U.S. border with Mexico during Biden’s term is seen as one of the largest political vulnerabilities in his re-election campaign.
During Iowa’s Republican caucuses last week, which Trump won, immigration was a top issue. An AP VoteCast survey found about 9 in 10 caucusgoers backed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, with about 7 in 10 expressing strong support for the idea. --->READ MORE HERE
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