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Bipartisan Senator’s Plan to Reform US Asylum Policy

November 12th, 2023 at 11:17 pm

Bipartisan Senator’s Plan to Reform US Asylum Policy

Over the weekend, a group of senators from both parties are trying to agree on asylum policy. modifications intended to lower the number of migrant crossings along the southern border.

Michael Bennett of Colorado, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, and Tom Tellis of North Carolina are sending delegates to negotiate a compromise to restructure the way migrants are processed along the US-Mexico border, where illegal crossings have surged to all-time highs over the past two years, in the hopes of striking a rare breakthrough on one of Congress’s most intractable issues.

Lenford and Tillis are Republicans, whereas Bennett and Murphy are Democrats. Late last year, Cinema, a former Democrat, switched to independence. The bipartisan group met to discuss a possible agreement’s framework and will carry on with their staff’s discussions throughout the weekend, according to the congressional official.

It’s uncertain whether the Republican-controlled House will take up and approve a bipartisan border proposal that is less stringent than a bill it enacted earlier this year, even if a Senate breakthrough occurs. People on both sides of the political spectrum are becoming increasingly concerned that we need to take immediate action as a national security measure to secure our border and guarantee the safe entry of migrants into our nation for those who do meet the requirements for asylum, according to Cinema.

The border patrol processed over 2 million illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2023—only the second time in the agency’s history that this threshold has been exceeded. According to federal statistics, the extraordinary migratory flows have put a burden on municipal and federal resources in both border and interior communities and have given Mr. Biden political headaches as he runs for a second term.

Further Details

Numerous prior attempts to pass a bipartisan reform of the US immigration system, which hasn’t been significantly revised since 1996, have failed due to partisan stagnation. The current Senate negotiations may have the same outcome, but several circumstances have created an extremely uncommon opportunity for legislators to work together on certain immigration-related matters.

To support Ukraine’s war effort against Russia, the Biden Administration, Congressional Democrats, and a large number of Republicans want Congress to authorize further military assistance to Ukraine. The Senate’s Republican leadership has connected changes to US border policy to approving further aid to Ukraine, which some Republicans find objectionable.

To strengthen border security and hire more judges and immigration officers, the Biden Administration has also pleaded with Congress to approve billions of dollars in financing, but Republicans have refused to approve those requests.

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Democratic mayors and governors in places like New York and states like Illinois, which are finding it difficult to accommodate the influx of migrants, are among the political pressures mounting on the White House to curtail the immigration flow into the country in the absence of a policy change.

Additionally, some administration officials think that unless the asylum system is changed, the increase in border crossings will not decline to levels that can be controlled. Demands for border policy were made public by a Republican Senate working group headed by Allyson Lampert. They included severe restrictions on who is eligible for asylum, the establishment of long-term detention facilities for immigrant families with children, and the restoration of Trump administration measures like as the “Remain in Mexico” program.

Democrats may be amenable to limited restrictions and expedited deportations, even though they are unlikely to favor family detention and more extensive restrictions on asylum.

Recent Senate Hearing

Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, stated at a senate committee this week that there was merit to talking about changes to the asylum threshold, but he added that more funding would be required.

Cinema stated that although demonstrating a well-founded fear of persecution is a requirement for asylum, this need not alter. There is a need to change the procedures before migrants see a judge.

The White House, which Congressional and administration officials have stated is not participating in the Senate negotiations, stated earlier this week that while it disagreed with many of the proposals made by the GOP working group, it was open to a serious discussion with Republicans about reforms that would strengthen our immigration system. Significant limitations on the application of humanitarian parole were also introduced by Republican senators.

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Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from Afghanistan, Latin America, and Ukraine are welcome, according to the Biden Administration. The bipartisan Senate committee would virtually surely face criticism from both the left and the right over any border security agreement.

Even if the Senate reaches a compromise, immigration hardliners who have pushed for mass deportations and the dismantling of US asylum law would probably consider it to be too lax. It’s unknown if Speaker Mike Johnson and the Republican-controlled House would back a bill backed by Democrats.

Final Thoughts

Limitations on asylum and initiatives to expedite deportations are likely to attract opposition from progressives and campaigners for immigrant rights, the majority of whom oppose modifications to asylum legislation.

Democrats and their supporters who have campaigned for a road to citizenship for decades would become enraged over an agreement that excludes the legalization of undocumented immigrants, such as so-called Dreamers. The American Immigration Council’s policy director, Aaron Rein Melnick, stated that the Republican position of “we will get everything we want and you don’t get anything” cannot be negotiated. The American Immigration Council supports progressive immigration policies.

As for the Republican proposals, Rein Melnick stated that advocates would not support any of them because they would amount to the mass detention of families and children in prisons and camps and the elimination of asylum. However, Teresa Cardinal Brown, an immigration expert at the Bipartisan Policy Center, stated that the record numbers of migrants apprehended along the southern border in recent years have demonstrated that the current asylum process is untenable and requires reform.

Cardinal Brown, a former federal immigration official under Presidents Barack Obama and George Walker Bush, stated that the volume of applications has outpaced our capacity to handle them. Practically speaking, we’re just adding individuals to an endless list rather than processing them for asylum.

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