Opinion: Is something better than nothing on immigration?

There may be no more direct critic of President Biden on immigration matters than the head of the main union for Border Patrol agents.

Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council churns out almost daily attacks and insults aimed at President Biden, leaving absolutely no doubt about where his group stands.

“My agents are mad as hell,” Judd said as he stood at the border with former President Donald Trump a few weeks ago.

But when it comes to fixing the border — this might surprise you — the Border Patrol union has broken twice this year with most Republicans in Congress.

And it all boils down to the age-old question on Capitol Hill: is it better to make a little progress, or hold out for a perfect bill? Is half a loaf better than nothing at all?

For many Republicans, the recently passed government funding bills for 2024 did little to help address the border situation.

“Our Republican majority is a complete failure,” said U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, angered that immigration policy changes weren’t added. It’s one reason she wants to oust Speaker Mike Johnson.

But if you listen to the National Border Patrol Council — in between social media salvos at President Biden — the recent homeland security funding bill did help.

Judd’s group said the government funding package had a ‘significant’ increase in immigration detention beds, a ‘huge’ increase in border agents, and ‘key’ incentives to retain them.

But that wasn’t enough for most House Republicans, as a majority voted against the extra resources for border security.

It was the second time in recent weeks that GOP lawmakers and the Border Patrol union were at odds — even though they are obvious allies on illegal immigration.

Back in February, when Senators unveiled a bipartisan border security package later torpedoed by Trump, the NBPC was on board with the plan.

“It is far better than the current status quo,” said U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the GOP negotiator who was run over by fellow Republicans.

Would that deal have solved all the problems at the border? Of course not. But key players, including Judd’s group, said it would help.

I often compare legislating to saving for college. Is it better to save money all at once, or in small amounts when the kids are young? You know the answer.

Instead of doing something right now about the border, most Republicans in Congress want to wait until after the November election.

But for the Border Patrol union — waiting is not an option.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com