March 2, 2024

Despite heralding the “migrant crisis” as America’s number one priority, Republican lawmakers don’t seem too keen on actually doing their jobs to remedy it. In fact, according to one Republican senator, conservatives have been actively threatening those trying to solve it.

For weeks, a Donald Trump-endorsed Senator James Lankford worked alongside his Democrat colleagues to develop a Senate resolution addressing problems stemming from the U.S.-Mexico border—ultimately creating a proposal that concedes so much to Republicans that it shocked progressives. And yet, House Speaker Mike Johnson warned that the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the lower chamber, refusing to back down from the House’s original proposal: the extreme, asylum-limiting bill H.R. 2.

On Wednesday, moments before the Senate officially blocked the bipartisan deal from moving forward, Lankford talked about the warnings he’s been receiving.

“Some of them have been very clear with me: they have political differences with the bill. They say it’s the wrong time to solve the problem, or let the presidential election solve this problem,” Lankford said on the Senate floor.

“I had a popular commentator that told me flat out, before they knew any of the contents of the bill, if you try to move a bill that solves the border crisis during this presidential year, I will do whatever I can to destroy you, because I do not want you to solve this during the presidential election,” the Oklahoma Republican continued.

“By the way, they have been faithful to their promise and have done everything they can to destroy me in the past several weeks,” Lankford added.

The quizzical stall has raised eyebrows from other conservative lawmakers, like Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw, who appeared bewildered with his party’s grandstanding on Tuesday.

“I understand some Republicans are saying we don’t need any changes to the law. Then why did we write H.R. 2? Why did we do that?” lamented Crenshaw to C-SPAN after all the failed votes Tuesday. “Why didn’t Trump just shut down the border, if you think we just don’t need any changes to the law? He couldn’t! He had to make a deal with Mexico.”

Conservatives have been dropping hints for weeks that the GOP’s quiet refusal to actually do anything about the border is all to help re-elect Trump, who hopes to make immigration a key issue in his presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, politicians around the country are trying to lobby for their own solutions to alleviate the burdens of mass immigration, which have collectively cost city governments billions in additional expenses. In an MSNBC op-ed, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston called on Congress to change the law and allow undocumented immigrants to work, decrying a “broken system” that effectively forces refugees looking for a better life into the throes of poverty.

“Every migrant I speak to tells me they don’t want any charity; they just want to work. When I speak to conservative business leaders, they say the same thing: Newcomers should work; I have open jobs; let me hire them,” Johnston wrote. “Migrants in our cities want to work and businesses want to hire them, yet the federal government continues to stand in the way of a common-sense solution. Congress must take steps that will resolve this humanitarian crisis for asylum-seekers and prevent a fiscal crisis for cities.”

“If we perpetuate the status quo, we will force local governments either to pay for perpetual public services for unemployed migrants, overwhelming city and state budgets, or cut back services for migrants and leave thousands of people homeless on our streets,” Johnston continued. “Both ‘solutions’ go against two core American values: We are a welcoming nation of immigrants, and anyone willing to work hard should be able to support their family.”