Trump cheers border bill collapse, vows 'deportation operation'

Former president and 2024 White House hopeful Donald Trump speaks at a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Conway, South Carolina, on February 10, 2024 (Julia Nikhinson)
Former president and 2024 White House hopeful Donald Trump speaks at a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Conway, South Carolina, on February 10, 2024 (Julia Nikhinson)
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White House hopeful Donald Trump on Saturday celebrated the collapse of legislation targeting the migrant crisis on the US-Mexico border, while vowing that, if reelected, he would carry out a massive "deportation operation" on his first day in office.

The death of the bipartisan bill in the US Senate this week highlights the ex-president's iron grip on the Republican Party, as he is keen to deny Biden a win on the hot topic of immigration.

"Let's not forget that this week we also had another massive victory that every conservative should celebrate. We crushed crooked Joe Biden's disastrous open borders bill," Trump declared at a rally in South Carolina.

"The whole group did a great job in Congress. We crushed it."

Under pressure from Trump, who wants to exploit Biden's perceived weakness on immigration, Republican lawmakers appeared to decide that they would prefer stopping any border reforms until after November's election.

Trump -- whose successful first presidential campaign featured a key plank of building a giant wall on the US-Mexico border to keep out migrants -- on Saturday declared that deporting migrants would be one of his first tasks.

"On day one I will terminate every open border policy of the Biden administration and we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. We have no choice."

The Senate border bill had included aid for Ukraine and Israel, with lifelines for the US allies appearing dead in the water after Republicans rejected it Wednesday.

The upper chamber is now considering a foreign aid package that decouples the aid from the border issue entirely.

The $95 billion package set to be debated includes funding for Israel's fight against Hamas militants and for key strategic ally Taiwan. The lion's share, however, would help pro-Western Ukraine restock depleted ammunition supplies, weapons and other crucial needs as it enters a third year of war.

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