A group of senators from both parties is currently working over the weekend to reach an agreement on changes to asylum policies. The goal is to decrease the number of migrant crossings at the southern border, and the senators hope to achieve a rare success in tackling one of Congress’ most challenging problems. This information was disclosed by three officials from Congress who spoke to CBS News.
Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina are working together to find a solution to revamp the processing of migrants along the border between the United States and Mexico, as there has been a sharp increase in illegal border crossings.
have reached record-breaking peaks
In the last twenty-four months, there has been a proposed agreement that would be included in a larger request for national security funding by President Biden. This request also includes assistance for Israel and Ukraine, as well as funds for border security, which Senate Republicans have linked to certain conditions..
On Wednesday night, the group of politicians from both parties met to discuss a plan for a possible agreement. They will continue their discussions throughout the weekend with the help of their staff, according to congressional officials. It is uncertain if the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans, would approve a bipartisan border plan that is less strict than a previous measure passed earlier this year.
According to government data, there has been an extraordinary increase in migration that has put pressure on both federal and local resources in cities along the border and within the country. This has also become a challenge for President Biden as he runs for re-election.
A unique but restricted chance
Partisan disagreement has prevented many previous efforts to pass a bipartisan overhaul of the U.S. immigration system, which has not been significantly revised since 1996. The current negotiations in the Senate may face a similar outcome, but a few factors have created a small opportunity for lawmakers to come to an agreement on certain immigration matters.
The Biden administration, along with congressional Democrats and several Republicans, are urging Congress to provide additional military aid to Ukraine in their fight against Russia. However, Republican leaders in the Senate are tying the approval of this aid, which is opposed by some Republicans, to changes in U.S. border policy. The Biden administration has also asked for billions of dollars to be allocated towards hiring more immigration officers and judges and strengthening border security, but Republicans have refused to approve these funds without a change in policy.
home to large immigrant populations
Additionally, there is increasing political pressure on the White House to decrease the influx of immigrants entering the United States, coming from Democratic leaders such as mayors and governors in cities like New York, and states like Illinois, which have significant immigrant populations.
To provide refuge for the incoming individuals. Some government officials also hold the belief that the increase in border crossings will not decrease to a manageable level unless changes are made to the asylum system.
Earlier this week, a group of Republican senators led by Lankford announced their demands for border policies. These demands include strict restrictions on who is eligible for asylum, the establishment of long-term detention centers for families with children, and the revival of policies from the Trump administration, such as the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy..
Although Democrats are not likely to approve of family detention and the stricter limitations on asylum, they may consider implementing some restrictions and expediting deportations. At a Senate hearing this week, Senator Murphy from Connecticut stated that a conversation about “modifications to the asylum criteria” is warranted, but also acknowledged that it would require an increase in resources.
Sinema suggested that although the primary requirements for obtaining asylum, which involve proving a legitimate fear of persecution, should remain unchanged, the procedures leading up to a court hearing should be modified.
“At present, the system is not functioning properly,” she stated in an interview with CBS News. “The cartels are taking advantage of the gaps in the system, resulting in an inefficient and inhumane situation that poses a threat to both our communities and migrants.”
Sinema stated that the goal of the discussions is to reach a compromise.
According to both congressional and administration sources, the White House is not participating in discussions in the Senate. However, earlier this week, they expressed disagreement with several proposals put forth by the GOP working group. Despite this, they are open to discussing potential reforms that could enhance the immigration system with Republican lawmakers.
federal funds for abortions
The Republican senators’ list of demands also featured significant limitations on the allocation of federal funds for abortion purposes.
The Biden administration has utilized a legislation to extend a warm welcome to hundreds of thousands of individuals from Afghanistan, Latin America, and Ukraine who are seeking refuge and migration.
A potential agreement would probably infuriate both the liberals and conservatives.
A potential agreement on border security by the Senate group consisting of members from both parties is likely to receive backlash from both sides of the political spectrum.
Those who strongly oppose immigration and have pushed for large-scale deportations and weakening of asylum laws in the United States would probably see it as not strict enough. Even if the Senate reaches an agreement, it is uncertain if the Republican-controlled House and Speaker Mike Johnson would approve a bill supported by Democrats.
However, limitations placed on seeking asylum and attempts to expedite deportations may face backlash from liberal individuals and advocates for immigrant rights, who generally do not endorse modifications to asylum legislation. Additionally, an agreement that does not address the legalization of undocumented immigrants, specifically those known as “Dreamers,” would likely cause divisions among Democrats and their supporters, who have long advocated for a pathway to citizenship.
According to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council, the Republicans are essentially stating that they will receive all their desired outcomes and the other party will receive nothing. This is not a fair or effective negotiation stance.
According to Reichlin-Melnick, supporters will not support any of the suggestions made by Republicans. He believes that these proposals would result in the “imprisonment of families and children in camps” and “the removal of asylum.”
According to Theresa Cardinal Brown from the Bipartisan Policy Center, the increasing number of migrants caught at the southern border in recent years demonstrates that the current asylum system is not functional and requires changes.
According to Cardinal Brown, a previous immigration official under Presidents Obama and Bush, our capacity to handle individuals has been surpassed. In terms of practicality, we are unable to process asylum seekers and are instead placing them in an ongoing waiting list.