89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

TUES: Bill to ban guns at NM polling places advances with concerns about intimidation, + More

New Mexico Senate Chamber during the 2024 legislative session
Alice Fordham
New Mexico Senate Chamber during the 2024 legislative session

Bill to ban guns at polling places in New Mexico advances with concerns about intimidation - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

A Democratic-backed bill to ban firearms at polling places and near ballot drop boxes won the endorsement of New Mexico's state Senate in response to concerns about intimidation and fears among poll workers in the runup to the 2024 election.

The bill now moves to the state House for consideration after winning Senate approval on a 26-16 vote, with all Republicans and one Democrat voting in opposition. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signaled her support in putting the bill on a limited agenda for a 30-day legislative session.

A dozen states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Georgia prohibit guns at voting locations, as legislators in several other states grapple with concerns about the intersection of voting and guns in a polarized political climate. As votes were tallied in the 2020 presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, armed protesters carrying guns gathering nightly outside offices where workers were counting the votes in states including Arizona, Nevada and Michigan to decide who won the White House.

"Given where we are as a country with elections, having guns (kept) out of polling places in my opinion — and I respect that there's a difference of opinion on this — but I think it makes a lot of sense," said Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, cosponsor of the bill to ban concealed and open carry of guns within 100 feet (30 meters) of the entrance of a polling place.

Republican senators in the legislative minority highlighted their opposition, proposing unsuccessful amendments to exempt rural counties or concealed gun permit holders from the gun ban at polling places. Colorado in 2022 banned the open carry of firearms — but not concealed weapons — at polls.

State Sen. Gregg Schmedes of Tijeras, a conservative political stronghold with a strong culture of gun ownership, said the bill would "disproportionately disenfranchise" Republican gun owners who are "genuinely afraid of going into gun-free zones."

Guns already are prohibited at New Mexico schools that often serve as Election Day voting sites, along with extensive Native American tribal lands. The bill would extend similar restrictions to a variety of other polling locations on Election Day and during a weekslong period of in-person early voting, from storefront voting centers to houses of worship. Guns would be banned within 50 feet (15 meters) of drop boxes for absentee balloting during voting periods.

The proposed gun restrictions would be punishable as a petty misdemeanor by up to six months in a county jail, a $500 fine or both.

A similar bill won Senate approval in last year but stalled without a House floor vote. The new version provides exceptions and some leeway for people to leave guns in a personal vehicle while voting, and outside of shopping mall voting centers where people may be carrying a gun incidentally as they run other errands.

A 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights in the so-called Bruen decision has upended firearms restrictions across the country as activists wage court battles over everything from bans on AR-15-style rifles to restrictions in so-called "sensitive" locations.

"Polling places are one of the lanes within the Bruen decision, where Justice Clarence Thomas clearly said there is a historical precedent for a state stepping in to regulate firearms," Wirth said.

On the Senate floor, Wirth said the bill responds to political constituents working at polling places in 2022 who felt intimidated by people who brought in guns —- though without violations of criminal statutes against intimidation at polling places.

New House budget wrangles record revenue again, but experts warn it won’t last much longer - Source New Mexico 

A statewide spending plan unveiled Monday by House lawmakers recommends the smallest increase in spending in several years, its drafters acknowledging the oil and gas boom that has filled and overfilled New Mexico coffers in recent years could soon dry up.

The House Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the budget by a vote of 13-3, overcoming “no” votes by members concerned about the amount to be spent on road repairs andlegislative staff salaries. It will soon be considered by the full House.

The committee’s recommended general fund budget is $10.18 billion, an increase of $621 million, or 6.5%, over last year. It’s less than the $10.5 billion Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to spend in the next fiscal year, but slightly more than what the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Committee recommended.

What the budget represents, according to Committee Chair Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), is an effort to wisely spend the projected $3.4 billion budget surplus while also limiting spending growth to prevent sharper cuts in the future. He touted it as the product of hundreds of hours of work and the most transparent budget process in history, thanks to the amount of public comments the committee solicited in recent months.

“We’ve chosen to do that all in this public forum, which has meant a longer time, more questions. I think it also reflects in a much better budget that we see here today,” Small told committee members. “I think we can be confident that we are spreading our surplus in a responsible way, making sure that not only core functions, but the things that are going to grow, diversify, and set our economy and our education system up for success are there in a very strong way.”

In three of the last five years, lawmakers increased the state’s operating budget more than 10%.

But budget surpluses like this year’s, driven largely by oil and gas taxes and royalties, are projected to plateau beginning next year and decrease over the next decade, according to state economists.

LFC Director Charles Sallee cautioned lawmakers to consider that plateau this year, even though the state isn’t yet feeling the squeeze of any expected reductions in oil and gas revenues. Those projected revenues, plus recent legislation and other global economic forces, mean lawmakers could soon have to make harder choices on where to spend taxpayer money.

Some time soon, Sallee told lawmakers, a responsible state budget will only grow by $250 million a year. The House committee’s budget makes good use of record revenues while also acknowledging billion-dollar surpluses may soon be a thing of the past, he said.

“And the more that you spend today, whether through tax code changes or through the recurring budget, the faster that date moves up,” he said. “This 6.5% increase keeps that date at bay.”

Even with just a 6.5% increase, Small touted the budget as the biggest-ever investment in healthcare in the state, and Sallee said the House’s spending plan strategically invests in three-year pilot programs for state programs to allow them to be evaluated before requiring bigger spending commitments. The budget also provides for a raise between 2% and 4% for all state workers.

Below are more details about how the House committee wants to fund nine important functions of state government.


Under the House plan, the state would spend about $13.2 billion in recurring money each year on health care, along with more than $206 million in one-time spending called “special appropriations.”

That figure includes the budgets for the newly created Health Care Authority, the Department of Health, the Retiree Health Care Authority, the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of the Public Education Department, the Miners’ Hospital of New Mexico, the Workers’ Compensation Administration, the Medical Board, the Board of Nursing and the Governor’s Commission on Disability.

The House’s budget for health agencies is about $17,000 larger than the LFC’s recommendation, but $250,000 smaller than Lujan Grisham’s.


Prisons would get $372.8 million each year, along with $16.2 million in special appropriations.

That includes spending for the New Mexico Corrections Department, the juvenile justice facilities run by the Children Youth and Families Department, the Sentencing Commission and the Parole Board.

The House budget for the Corrections Department is the same as LFC’s proposal but nearly $21 million smaller than Lujan Grisham’s.


Overall, the House budget for the state’s judicial branch is $5.8 million larger than the proposal from the Legislative Finance Committee, but about $11,000 smaller than Lujan Grisham’s.

The courts would receive $294.7 million annually, along with more than $26 million in special appropriations.

That includes every district court in the state, the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court, the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, the New Mexico Compilation Commission and the Judicial Standards Commission.


The House budget for public safety is $2 million larger than the LFC suggestion, and $25,000 smaller than Lujan Grisham’s.

Police and military would get $240.3 million each year, and more than $29 million in special appropriations.

That includes the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Military Affairs and the Office of Military Base Planning and Support.


Prosecutors would receive $147.8 million every year, and about $14.4 million in special appropriations.

That includes all 14 district attorneys’ offices across the state, the Administrative Office of the District Attorneys and the New Mexico Department of Justice.


Public defenders and family advocates would get $87.2 million each year, along with nearly $2.6 million in special appropriations.

That includes the Law Offices of the Public Defender and the Office of Family Representation and Advocacy.


The four parties who have so far recommended spending to address New Mexico’s housing crisis have offered four very different numbers for how much that will cost.

Sen. Nancy Rodgriguez (D-Santa Fe) is asking lawmakers to deposit $500 million in the state’s Housing Affordability Trust Fund, overseen by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority. She doesn’t expect the Legislature to ultimately fulfill that request, but she said the trust fund has proven itself effective with a little more than $60 million it’s received over the last 17 years.

The trust fund uses public money to support an array of government, nonprofit and private entities with developing affordable housing complexes, helping first-time buyers afford down payments and other programs. Officials claim the program has a 16-to-1 return on investment.

Lujan Grisham is asking the Legislature to put $250 million in the fund.

But the House appropriations committee budget asks for $44.5 million for the fund, which is even less than the LFC’s $50 million recommendation.


The newly-released House education budget largely reflects the Legislative Finance Committee’s recommendations, bucking some of Lujan Grisham’s proposals.

Among notable absences is the governor’s proposed literacy institute, for which she requested $30 million to build. The Legislative Finance Committee recommended $3 million for planning and design.

The House budget recommends the following investments in line with both House and Senate Education Committee priorities:

  • $49 million for literacy, career technical education and community school programs
  • $14 million in early literacy support
  • $55 million for culturally relevant and bilingual materials
  • $62.7 million for 2% salary increases, bringing all school personnel up to $15 per hour
  • $43 million to expand early childhood care
  • $750,000 to support adult literacy programs
  • $2 million for attendance programs

The budget proposal states a school district’s operational budget will not be approved if there are fewer instruction days compared to last year or if they are only in session four days per week. Both align with a proposed mandatory 180-day attendance rule, which has drawn criticism from rural and tribal leaders.
Lujan Grisham also asked for $58.1 million for structured literacy programs, which she announced at a press briefing two days into the session. The House budget would grant more toward early literacy programs than the Legislative Finance Committee proposed.

“The sad issue is that New Mexico has waited a little too long to robustly take the science of reading and make it universal,” Lujan Grisham said. “Most of the educators in this room have been navigating it on their own for so long.”


Lawmakers are poised to raise funding for staffing state environmental agencies, and fund significant one-time programs for pollution accountability, “forever chemical” mitigation and developing a surface water and groundwater permitting program.

In total, House Appropriations and Finance recommended a $201 million total budget for the New Mexico Environment Department, smaller than the $215 million ask from the governor.

The 19% increase will go toward staff salaries and rental costs, and help “bolster “ the agency’s regulatory responsibilities, according to the budget summary.

In one-time appropriations, House lawmakers agreed to give the environment department $1 million for pollution accountability, $1 million to “develop and implement initiatives that protect the public” from per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances – also known as “forever chemicals.”

The surface water discharge permitting program is getting a boost. State officials raised concerns over the vulnerability of New Mexico’s waters after the U.S. Supreme Court last year changed what constitutes pollution-protected waters.

In addition to carrying over $680,000 from last year and accepting the executive’s ask for another $600,000, lawmakers added $7 million from the water quality management fund to develop and implement state surface water and groundwater permitting programs.

State lawmakers increased the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department budget by 12% to $188 million. That’s smaller than the governor’s $198 million request.

In one-time money, the House committee allocated $250,000 for legal counsel, $1.7 million to match federal funds, an additional $2.5 million to address inspection and compliance backlogs in the oil conservation division and $225,000 to create a Rio Grande trail commission office.

Lawmakers approved another $10 million for a contract to provide low-interest loans for low-income communities for wind, solar, weatherization and geothermal energy intended to reduce carbon emissions.

There’s another $5 million for geothermal projects – half for a loan fund, and the other $2.5 million for development – contingent on several pieces of legislation passing.

For the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, the House Appropriations and Finance Committee followed the LFC recommendation of $49.5 million, just under the $50 million request from the executive request. The agency requested a flat budget for most of its programming, but asked for $3.4 million for 38 more staff to implement and negotiate water rights. The Legislative Finance Committee recommended a $2.2 million increase from the General Fund.

Some one-time funds include $20 million over the next two years to settle water rights disputes with Pueblos and tribes.

N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize winner and giant of Native American literature, dead at 89 - By Hillel Italie, AP National Writer

N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning storyteller, poet, educator and folklorist whose debut novel "House Made of Dawn" is widely credited as the starting point for contemporary Native American literature, has died. He was 89.

Momaday died Wednesday at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, publisher HarperCollins announced. He had been in failing health.

"Scott was an extraordinary person and an extraordinary poet and writer. He was a singular voice in American literature, and it was an honor and a privilege to work with him," Momaday's editor, Jennifer Civiletto, said in a statement. "His Kiowa heritage was deeply meaningful to him and he devoted much of his life to celebrating and preserving Native American culture, especially the oral tradition."

"House Made of Dawn," published in 1968, tells of a World War II soldier who returns home and struggles to fit back in, a story as old as war itself: In this case, home is a Native community in rural New Mexico. Much of the book was based on Momaday's childhood in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, and on his conflicts between the ways of his ancestors and the risks and possibilities of the outside world.

"I grew up in both worlds and straddle those worlds even now," Momaday said in a 2019 PBS documentary. "It has made for confusion and a richness in my life."

Despite such works as John Joseph Mathews' 1934 release "Sundown," novels by American Indians weren't widely recognized at the time of "House Made of Dawn." A New York Times reviewer, Marshall Sprague, even contended in an otherwise favorable review that "American Indians do not write novels and poetry as a rule, or teach English in top-ranking universities, either. But we cannot be patronizing. N. Scott Momaday's book is superb in its own right."

Like Joseph Heller's "Catch-22," Momaday's novel was a World War II story that resonated with a generation protesting the Vietnam War. In 1969, Momaday became the first Native American to win the fiction Pulitzer, and his novel helped launch a generation of authors, including Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welch and Louise Erdrich. His other admirers would range from the poet Joy Harjo, the country's first Native to be named poet laureate, to the film stars Robert Redford and Jeff Bridges.

"He was a kind of literary father for a lot of us," Harjo told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Monday. "He showed how potent and powerful language and words were in shaping our very existence."

Over the following decades, he taught at Stanford, Princeton and Columbia universities, among other top-ranking schools, was a commentator for NPR, and lectured worldwide. He published more than a dozen books, from "Angle of Geese and Other Poems" to the novels "The Way to Rainy Mountain" and "The Ancient Child," and became a leading advocate for the beauty and vitality of traditional Native life.

Addressing a gathering of American Indian scholars in 1970, Momaday said, "Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves." He championed Natives' reverence for nature, writing that "the American Indian has a unique investment in the American landscape." He shared stories told to him by his parents and grandparents. He regarded oral culture as the wellspring of language and storytelling, and dated American culture back not to the early English settlers, but to ancient times, noting the procession of gods depicted in the rock art at Utah's Barrier Canyon.

"We do not know what they mean, but we know we are involved in their meaning," he wrote in the essay "The Native Voice in American Literature."

"They persist through time in the imagination, and we cannot doubt that they are invested with the very essence of language, the language of story and myth and primal song. They are 2,000 years old, more or less, and they remark as closely as anything can the origin of American literature."

In 2007, President George W. Bush presented Momaday with a National Medal of Arts "for his writings and his work that celebrate and preserve Native American art and oral tradition." Besides his Pulitzer, his honors included an Academy of American Poets prize and, in 2019, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Momaday was married three times, most recently to Barbara Glenn, who died in 2008. He had four daughters, one of whom, Cael, died in 2017.

He was born Navarre Scott Mammedaty, in Lawton, Oklahoma, and was a member of the Kiowa Tribe. His mother was a writer, and his father an artist who once told his son, "I have never known an Indian child who couldn't draw," a talent Momaday demonstrably shared. His artwork, from charcoal sketches to oil paintings, were included in his books and exhibited in museums in Arizona, New Mexico and North Dakota. Audio guides to tours of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of the American Indian featured Momaday's avuncular baritone.

After spending his teens in New Mexico, he studied political science at the University of Mexico and received a master's and Ph.D. in English from Stanford. Momaday began as a poet, his favorite art form, and the publication of "House Made of Dawn" was an unintentional result of his early reputation. Editor Fran McCullough, of what is now HarperCollins, had met Momaday at Stanford and several years later contacted him and asked whether he would like to submit a book of poems.

Momaday did not have enough for a book, and instead gave her the first chapter of "House Made of Dawn."

Much of his writing was set in the American West and Southwest, whether tributes to bears — the animals he most identified with — or a cycle of poems about the life of Billy the Kid, a childhood obsession. He saw writing as a way of bridging the present with the ancient past and summed up his quest in the poem "If I Could Ascend":

Something like a leaf lies here within me; / it wavers almost not at all, / and there is no light to see it by / that it withers upon a black field. / If it could ascend the thousand years into my mouth, / I would make a word of it at last, / and I would speak it into the silence of the sun.

In 2019, he was the subject of a PBS "American Masters" documentary in which he discussed his belief he was a reincarnation of a bear connected to the Native American origin story around Devils Tower in Wyoming. He told The Associated Press in a rare interview that the documentary allowed him to reflect on his life, saying he was humbled that writers continued to say his work has influenced them.

"I'm greatly appreciative of that, but it comes a little bit of a surprise every time I hear it," Momaday said. "I think I have been an influence. It's not something I take a lot of credit for."


Former Associated Press writer Russell Contreras contributed to this report from Santa Fe, New Mexico.


This story has been updated to correct that Momaday was a member of the Kiowa Tribe.

Governor’s push for state housing office on hold for now - By Patrick Lohmann,Source New Mexico

Legislation enacting one of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s biggest priorities to address the ongoing housing shortage in New Mexico was pulled before being heard by a Senate committee Friday afternoon because the sponsor said it might not have enough support to survive.

The governor announced the plan for a statewide “Office of Housing” at the beginning of the 30-day legislative session during the State of the State speech. The office would try to coordinate an array of housing programs across state agencies and collect the data necessary to fully understand the depth of the state’s housing affordability crisis, among other things.

Sen. Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque) told Source New Mexico on Sunday he wasn’t “100% confident” that Senate Bill 71 had enough support in the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee. The legislation was scheduled for the Friday afternoon meeting, but, sensing he didn’t have the support he needed, Padilla said he pulled the bill before it could be heard.

Padilla, the Senate majority whip, is unsure if the bill could go before the committee this week, but said it is possible. As of Sunday, it was not on the Senate committee schedule..

In a short session, Padilla said couldn’t predict whether the legislation would be heard at all. The bill is also assigned to the Senate Finance Committee, and it has to make its way through the House, as well.

Padilla also didn’t have a clear sense of why some committee members might not be in favor of the bill, he said.

“We’re burning daylight now, but it just depends on where the support is,” he said.

A new Office of Housing would be attached to the state Department of Finance and Administration. It would require $1 million in start-up costs, including the hiring of five full-time employees, and between $375,000 and $750,000 a year onward for salaries and contracts, according to a Legislative Finance Committee analysis.

The purpose of the new office would be to work with local governments and private developers to fill funding and technical needs for new housing projects, plus work with the state Mortgage Finance Authority to coordinate projects. It would also be required to develop an annual statewide housing plan.

MFA officials and the New Mexico State Auditor’s office told legislative analysts that they were concerned a new housing office would duplicate their efforts and even pose legal conflicts. For example, the MFA’s housing trust fund has 120 employees that oversee more than 40 local programs and hundreds of partnerships with private companies. In the 2023 fiscal year, it oversaw spending of nearly $600 million for affordable housing programs.

“Creating a duplicative agency may decrease administrative efficiency of resource deployment and convolute the high level of coordination among housing stakeholders that currently exists,” MFA officials told analysts.

The New Mexico State Auditor’s Office told analysts that the proposed law does not make clear which entity would take precedence if, for example, the Office of Housing sought to build affordable housing with a developer the MFA deemed too risky to loan to.

But officials with Lujan Grisham’s office and Padilla said the new housing office is necessary amid an estimated affordable housing shortage of at least 32,000 units. Nearly all states have a dedicated housing agency, officials said.

And the initiative would support existing programs as a “sister agency,” according to a handout released to the press on Jan. 26 distributed by the governor’s office detailing her proposed reforms this session.

“The Office of Housing does not eradicate or duplicate the existing, primarily project-by-project approach to housing affordability,” according to the handout.

During the 2023 legislative session, Lujan Grisham’s office pushed for legislation that would have created a statewide “Department of Housing,” which would take over the housing trust fund currently overseen by the Mortgage Finance Authority. That bill failed to pass the Legislature. The legislation this year keeps the fund in the MFA’s control.

In addition to the housing office, Lujan Grisham is asking lawmakers to spend $500 million toward creating housing and making it more affordable.

That means a $250 million appropriation to the housing trust fund, plus another $250 million into the Opportunity Enterprise Revolving Fund, which would help local governments and businesses pay for housing infrastructure and housing aimed for those who can’t afford it but also earn too much income to qualify for state or federal housing subsidies.

New Mexico is automating how it shares info about arrest warrants - Associated Press

New Mexico courts and law enforcement on Monday began streamlining how they exchange information about outstanding arrest warrants through a new electronic process aimed at improving the criminal justice system.

State Police and court officials said automating electronic delivery allows law enforcement to know that a person is subject to arrest within minutes after a court issues a warrant.

Any status changes will be shared on a real-time basis with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, which will also let officers to know immediately when a person has been cleared of an arrest warrant. The real-time updates should lessen the possibility of a person being arrested mistakenly because of out-of-date warrant information, according to authorities.

Under the new process, courts will automatically transmit an electronic warrant after a judge signs it. The new system includes information from magistrate courts, which handle traffic cases and account for many of the warrants issued.

Courts in 26 of New Mexico's 33 counties will participate in the first phase of the electronic warrant process, along with nearly three quarters of the state's magistrate courts.

President Biden has said he'd shut the US-Mexico border if given the ability. What does that mean? - By Colleen Long, Associated Press

President Joe Biden has made some strong claims over the past few days about shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border as he tries to salvage a border deal in Congress that would also unlock money for Ukraine.

The deal had been in the works for months and seemed to be nearing completion in the Senate before it began to fall apart, largely because Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump doesn't want it to happen.

"A bipartisan bill would be good for America and help fix our broken immigration system and allow speedy access for those who deserve to be here, and Congress needs to get it done," Biden said over the weekend. "It'll also give me as president, the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control. If that bill were the law today, I'd shut down the border right now and fix it quickly."

A look at what Biden meant, and the political and policy considerations at play:


Biden wants continued funding for Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion. Senate Republicans had initially said they would not consider more money for Kyiv unless it was combined with a deal to manage the border.

As the talks have progressed, Biden has come to embrace efforts to reach a bipartisan border security deal after years of gridlock on overhauling the immigration system. But his statement that he would shut down the border "right now" if Congress passed the proposed deal is more about politics than policy.

He is seeking to disarm criticism of his handling of migration at the border as immigration becomes an increasing matter of concern to Americans in the leadup to the presidential election.


No. Trade would continue, people who are citizens and legal residents could continue to go back and forth.

Biden is referencing an expulsion authority being negotiated by the lawmakers that would automatically kick in on days when illegal crossings reached more than 5,000 over a five-day average across the Southern border, which is currently seeing as many as 10,000 crossings per day. The authority shuts down asylum screenings for those who cross illegally. Migrants could still apply at ports of entry until crossings dipped below 3,750 per day. But these are estimates, the final tally hasn't been ironed out.

There's also an effort to change how asylum cases are processed. Right now, it takes several years for a case to be resolved and in the meantime, many migrants are released into the country to wait. Republicans see that as one reason that additional migrants are motivated to come to the U.S.

The goal would be to shrink the resolution time to six months. It would also raise the standards for which migrants can apply for asylum in the first place. The standard right now is broad by design so that potential asylum seekers aren't left out, but critics argue the system is being abused.


Yes. Trump vowed to "shut down" the U.S-Mexico border entirely — including to trade and traffic — in an effort to force Mexico to do more to stem the flow of migrants. He didn't follow through, though. But the talk was heavily criticized by Democrats who said it was draconian and xenophobic. The closest Trump came was during the pandemic, when he used emergency authorities to severely limit asylum. But trade and traffic still continued.

The recent echoes of the former president by Biden, who had long argued that Trump's border policies were inhumane, reflect the growing public concern about illegal migration. But Biden's stance threatens to alienate progressives who already believe he has shifted too far right on border policies.


House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Trump ally and critic of the proposed deal, has argued that presidents already have enough authority to stop illegal border crossings. Biden could, in theory, strongly limit asylum claims and restrict crossings, but the effort would be almost certainly be challenged in court and would be far more likely to be blocked or curtailed dramatically without a congressional law backing the new changes.

"Congress needs to act," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "They must act. Speaker Johnson and House Republicans should provide the administration with the policy changes and funding needed."


Prospects are dim.

A core group of senators negotiating the deal had hoped to release detailed text this week, but conservatives already say the measures do not go far enough to limit immigration.

Johnson, R-La., on Friday sent a letter to colleagues that aligns him with hardline conservatives determined to sink the compromise. The speaker said the legislation would have been "dead on arrival in the House" if leaked reports about it were true.

As top Senate negotiator, James Lankford, R-Okla, said on "Fox News Sunday," that after months of pushing on border security and clamoring for a deal tied to Ukraine aid, "when we're finally getting to the end," Republicans seem to be saying; "'Oh, just kidding, I actually don't want a change in law because of the presidential election year.'"

Trump is loath to give a win to Biden on an issue that animated the Republican's successful 2016 campaign and that he wants to use as he seeks to return to the White House.

He said Saturday: "I'll fight it all the way. A lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they're blaming it on me. I say, that's okay. Please blame it on me. Please."


Biden's embrace of the congressional framework points to how the administration's efforts to enact a broader immigration overhaul have been stymied.

On his first day in office, Biden sent a comprehensive immigration proposal to Congress and signed more executive orders than Trump. Since then, he has taken more than 500 executive actions, according to a tally by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

His administration's approach has been to pair new humanitarian pathways for migrants with a crackdown at the border in an effort to discourage migrants from making the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border on foot and instead travel by plane with a sponsor. Some policies have been successful, but the number of crossings has continued to rise. He's also sought to make the issue more regional, using his foreign policy experience to broker agreements with other nations.

Biden's aides and allies see the asylum changes as part of the crackdown effort and that's in part why they have been receptive to the proposals. But they have resisted efforts to take away the president's ability to grant "humanitarian parole" -- to allow migrants into the U.S. for special cases during emergencies or global unrest.


Associated Press writer Stephen Groves contributed to this report.