House Passes Migrant Detention Bill, Denouncing Biden Border Policies

The House passed legislation on Thursday that would mandate that migrants who enter the country without authorization and are accused of theft be taken into federal custody, as Republicans pushed a messaging bill to attack President Biden and Democrats as dangerously lax on border enforcement.

The measure was named for Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student from Georgia who was killed in February. The authorities have charged a Venezuelan migrant who crossed into the United States illegally and was then released on parole in the case.

The bill has little chance of moving forward in the Democratic-led Senate, but Republicans used it as a way to put Democrats on the spot in the debate over the border and sow the kind of fear about immigrants that former President Donald J. Trump has made a staple of his politics.

Their efforts to jam Democrats on the issue appeared to have succeeded, as 37 members of Mr. Biden’s party backed the legislation, which broadly denounced the “open borders” policies of the administration. The bill, which passed 251 to 170, also singled out “‘Border Czar’ Vice President Kamala Harris” and Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, whom the House impeached last month. And it called on Mr. Biden to “publicly denounce his administration’s immigration policies that resulted in the murder of Laken Riley.”

Many Democrats condemned the bill, calling it a craven political maneuver that exploited a tragedy while doing nothing to address the situation at the border. They argued that the legislation would subject more people to mandatory detention at a time when Republicans are refusing to give the Homeland Security Department the resources it needs to carry out its policies. They also noted that the legislation could put innocent people at risk of unlawful detention.

The bill singled out Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, whom the House impeached last month.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

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