The federal government may be headed for another shutdown after congressional budget negotiations collapsed Sunday over a Democrat proposal to cap the number of beds available in Customs and Border Protection facilities to house illegal immigrants caught trying to jump the border.
Republican officials told the Washington Examiner that a deal had almost been reached to continue funding the federal government beyond this Friday, when House Democrats proposed placing a cap on the number of captured illegal immigrants who can be housed at any given time at border patrol facilities.
“Currently there is no cap,” a senior Republican aide told the Examiner. “They want to put in a cap and have criminals count against it so the number gets smaller and smaller.”
Placing a cap on housing captured illegal immigrants would also require Customs and Border Protection agents to release those illegal immigrants who qualify as "non-violent" while they await processing on their asylum claims. The policy, it seems, would force a de facto "catch-and-release" system, similar to a policy in effect under the Obama administration, which allowed asylum seekers to remain in the country, unsupervised, pending an asylum hearing.
To no one's surprise, many of those asylum seekers failed to report for adjudication.
The cap would also put a limit on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detentions, capping the number of illegal immigrants ICE can capture for deportation.
One prominent Democrat claimed that the proposed cap was designed to cut costs and force the Trump administration to be more efficient in handling criminal immigrants. “A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump admin to prioritize deportation for criminals and people posing real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants contributing to our country," Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) tweeted Sunday.
PBS News reports that Democrats and Republicans hope to meet again Monday afternoon to discuss salvaging the deal reached over the weekend, but that neither side is hopeful.
The president, who tweeted about the issue Monday morning, seems similarly disillusioned.
The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2019
The president has signaled that he lacks patience on the border wall issue, and that he believes he can declare a national emergency, requiring the federal government to allocate funds for the border wall. Although the White House has wavered on whether the president will actually go that route, they seem to be keeping the option open pending the outcome of this week's budget negotiations.
Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate have until Friday to reach an amicable solution or the federal government will shut down again.