We all expect 2024 to be a wild ride. Here’s a plot twist we didn’t anticipate.

The Democratic Party that widely despises U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and shunned her from the clubhouse is now depending on her to deliver critical legislation to rescue major Democratic cities and the Biden White House.

Yes, the Democrats need Sinema, her negotiating skills and her extensive connections in the U.S. Senate.

Unbridled mass immigration is tormenting the party and its president.

In 2023, some 2.4 million people crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. As they fanned out in record numbers across the land, often in buses provided by Republican border-state governors, they overwhelmed Democrat-run big cities.

Mayors in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver have complained loudly to the White House, demanding relief from immigration chaos.

With a presidential election looming in November, Joe Biden finds that the American people, by some 30 points, disapprove of his management of the border, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

The border has become a potential threat to his presidency and even the Biden-friendly New York Times is sounding the alarm:

“What used to be a clear-cut, ideological fight between Democrats and Republicans has become a bipartisan demand for action.”

Leading the charge for immigration reform is the Senate’s unrivaled champion of bipartisan cooperation — Arizona’s Sinema, now an independent.

Democrats may hate her for preserving the legislative filibuster and preventing Biden and the Democrats from muscling through some of their biggest spending bills, but they depend on her now to work her magic with Republicans.

In the first quarter of the 21st century, there are few U.S. senators as consequential as Sinema.

In a deeply divided country coming apart at the seams, she is demonstrating time and again that the two parties can work together to deliver meaningful results.

Most notably, Sinema led Democrat negotiations with Republicans to produce the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. When it won passage, CNN reported that Sinema had “earned rapturous praise from many of her colleagues.”

Later, working with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., she corralled enough Republican votes to pass the first major national gun-reform legislation in three decades.

“I’ve tried every tactic in the book to get this body to act and I’ve never been successful,” said Murphy, who has pursued gun reform since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., happened in his then-congressional district in 2012.

“I have a bit of PTSD about negotiations,” he told Politico. “Kyrsten just was convinced from the very start that this was possible. We needed that.”

After her break-up with the Democrats, The New York Times featured her prominently under the headline the “Party of One.”

“The fact that she’s playing the inside game, rather than the media game, demonstrates that she’s a professional who shows respect for people, even the ones who’ve disrespected her,” Murphy told the magazine.

“If you’re a real legislator and you want to get stuff done, you have to build trust. The minute you call the press or sic the activists on someone to try and apply pressure, you’ve lost that person’s trust.”

Now Washington is beginning to move on another intractable problem — border reform. And in the middle of it all is Sinema.

“(She) has often been central to Senate deal-making,” the Associated Press reported in December.

Congress has worked for decades to try to pass immigration reform that can finally bridle the massive movements of people across the U.S.-Mexico border.

In those many decades, the cardinal rule was you can’t do border reform in an election year. It’s too combustive.

That may be changing in 2024, reported The Times on Thursday.

“The intraparty pressure has turned the politics of immigration upside down at the beginning of a campaign year. And it has increased the likelihood that Mr. Biden and Democratic lawmakers will approve immigration concessions to Republicans that would have seemed improbable just a few years ago.”

Latin American immigration has changed significantly in the last 10 years.

In an important Foreign Affairs essay in June, Julia Preston, a writer for the Marshall Project and a Pulitzer Prize winner for her Mexico coverage, explained that border crossings used to be Mexicans “heading to fields and factories in the United States, often seasonally.”

Now it is whole families from Central America moving permanently.

They have used U.S. asylum law created by the Refugee Act of 1980 and signed by then-President Jimmy Carter to gain access to the country. This was policy meant to deal with far smaller numbers of people escaping persecution in their home countries, she explained.

The Mexican cartels have gotten involved, taking advantage of American asylum law and modern internet communications to bring massive numbers of the new migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border requesting refugee status.

Why Biden's handling of the border:Is such a big problem

The result is an immigration court backlog of some 800,000 cases, as immigrants wait in the United States for a chance to prove their asylum claim is legitimate.

“The asylum system is failing at every step of the way,” Preston wrote. “Since there have been no clear-cut procedures for deporting asylum seekers whose claims are rejected, many of those people and their families — along with tens of thousands of asylum seekers denied in previous years — have quietly joined the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country.”

Kyrsten Sinema understands the problem as she works to find consensus to solve it.

“I think it’s obvious the asylum system is being exploited by criminal cartels in Mexico and throughout the world. And it’s not functioning as it was intended to do,” she told NBC News.

“The cartels ... are using it to make a lot of money for themselves and to send economic migrants to the U.S.

“Economic migrants are people who seek to work in the United States, and in large part are good folks. They want to make a better life in the U.S. They’re not asylum seekers, however.”

Bedeviled by the mayhem at the border, the Biden White House appears ready to make a deal, The Times reports.

“They are open to changes that would make it harder for asylum seekers to pass an initial hurdle, known as a credible fear interview. If that happens, more of them will be returned home more quickly.”

The White House is also open other ways to get control of the asylum system.

If there is going to be a deal, it will need to be done in an election year in a time when the two parties despise each other.

It’s probably impossible.

But Sinema wouldn’t get involved if there was no chance.

“I don’t spend my time in the world of fantasy,” she told The Times Magazine. “I spend my time in the world of the possible.”

On Wednesday, after a two-hour negotiating session, she told the Washington press corps, “We’re closing in.”

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. Email him at phil.boas@arizonarepublic.com.

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Sinema could deliver border reform in an election year

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05.01.2024

We all expect 2024 to be a wild ride. Here’s a plot twist we didn’t anticipate.

The Democratic Party that widely despises U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and shunned her from the clubhouse is now depending on her to deliver critical legislation to rescue major Democratic cities and the Biden White House.

Yes, the Democrats need Sinema, her negotiating skills and her extensive connections in the U.S. Senate.

Unbridled mass immigration is tormenting the party and its president.

In 2023, some 2.4 million people crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. As they fanned out in record numbers across the land, often in buses provided by Republican border-state governors, they overwhelmed Democrat-run big cities.

Mayors in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver have complained loudly to the White House, demanding relief from immigration chaos.

With a presidential election looming in November, Joe Biden finds that the American people, by some 30 points, disapprove of his management of the border, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

The border has become a potential threat to his presidency and even the Biden-friendly New York Times is sounding the alarm:

“What used to be a clear-cut, ideological fight between Democrats and Republicans has become a bipartisan demand for action.”

Leading the charge for immigration reform is the Senate’s unrivaled champion of bipartisan cooperation — Arizona’s Sinema, now an independent.

Democrats may hate her for preserving the legislative filibuster and preventing Biden and the Democrats from muscling through some of their biggest spending bills, but they depend on her now to work her magic with Republicans.

In the first quarter of the 21st century, there are few U.S. senators as consequential as Sinema.

In a deeply divided country coming........

© Arizona Republic


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