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EDITORIAL: Border deal under attack, but what’s the alternative?

The Senate immigration compromise is on life support just days after its birth. Many conservatives say it doesn’t go far enough to stem border chaos, while leftists complain that it focuses too heavily on enforcement.

But what’s the alternative?

The bill is certainly an improvement on the status quo. It raises the bar for proving asylum claims. It works to stem the “catch and release” policies that the Biden administration has imposed. It reforms the “humanitarian parole” loophole that the White House has exploited. All of these changes are progress — if modest — and should help make it less attractive for migrants to flood the border zone.

“This is absolutely better than what we currently have,” Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents front-line workers, told ABC News.

The deal would also open the door for additional aid to Israel in its fight for survival.

Yet the proposal has met fierce resistance from the right. “They’ve rigged the bill,” wrote David Harsanyi of The Federalist, “making it so malleable that (President Joe) Biden can basically interpret and implement its provisions in any fashion he chooses.”

In addition, House Speaker Mike Johnson all but said that he wouldn’t bring the legislation to a vote even if it ekes through in the Senate. Donald Trump, meanwhile, has made clear that he prefers inertia because he hopes to exploit the issue in the upcoming election. But that is not responsible leadership. It’s not a good look for Republicans to cry “crisis” at the border for the past three years and then undermine a compromise in a politically motivated effort to flog the issue into November.

In fact, the agreement hardly takes the controversy off the table for Mr. Biden. His polling numbers on immigration are abysmal, and the nation finds itself at this point solely because of his unconscionable pandering to progressive open-borders advocates.

Mr. Biden had plenty of chances to attack the problem on his own, yet refused. That’s all fair game for Republicans. And if, as Mr. Harsanyi fears, the administration slow-plays the reforms, that, too, can have electoral repercussions.

Conservative critics may have some points, but Republicans don’t control the Senate or the White House. They don’t have the congressional votes to unilaterally impose policy changes at the border. The reality of divided government demands compromise and incremental progress. The goal for the GOP must be to vastly improve its recent electoral track record so it can then build on that progress. Scuttling a deal is unlikely to help the party in that regard.

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