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Will Democrats and Republicans head for the border?

United States Senator Ron Johnson (Republican of Wisconsin)

United States Senator Ron Johnson (Republican of Wisconsin)

Credit: Rod Lamkey / CNP/Sipa USANo Use Germany
Now’s the time to watch the fascinating politics of immigration policy in the United States. For years, both Democrats and Republicans have played high-stakes political poker by using dysfunctional US border policy, and a series of migrant surges across the US-Mexico boundary, as a wedge issue. The Dems say Republicans hate immigrants. The Republicans say Democrats use immigrants to win more votes. (Reality check: President Joe Biden hasn’t changed former President Donald Trump’s policies very much.)

But there is now more talk in Washington of a legislative compromise that Dems would accept and Republicans would cheer in the form of policies that make it tougher for asylum-seekers to enter the US.

Why might the Dems give way? They want more money from Republicans to help Ukraine repel Russia, and concessions on border policy might help. Dems also worry that another border crisis will undermine their 2024 election chances by boosting Republican turnout and diverting attention from other issues – like abortion rights – where Democrats hold a stronger political hand.

What’s the Republican calculation? Winning Dem concessions to tighten the border is a political victory, but an election-year border crisis on Biden’s watch might be more valuable.

We’ll be watching to see how heavyweights in each party play their respective political hands.

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