Friday, December 1, 2023

Congress is Eying Immigration Limits as GOP Demands Border Changes in Swap for Biden Overseas Aid; Ukraine Aid for Border Security Would Be a Win-Win

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
Congress is eying immigration limits as GOP demands border changes in swap for Biden overseas aid:
As record numbers of migrants surge at the southern U.S. border, many seeking asylum, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has told Congress the country’s “broken” immigration system is in need of a top-to-bottom update.
But rather than undertake a comprehensive immigration overhaul, Congress is scrambling in a few short weeks for a deal that would greatly restrict the asylum and humanitarian parole process used by thousands to temporarily stay in the U.S. while their claims are being processed in the backlogged system.
Pushed to the negotiating table by Republicans, the Biden administration is considering the long-shot effort as the price to be paid for the president’s $106 billion year-end request for Ukraine, Israel and national security needs. It comes as Mayorkas, the face of the administration’s immigration policy, bears down the threat of impeachment proceedings from House Republicans over what they view as failed border policies.
“We’re not going to try to secure other countries and not secure ours,” said Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, as he rolled out the Senate GOP’s border effort earlier this month.
“We’re at a point for three years we’ve been saying, ‘When are we going to secure the country? When are we going to do this?’ And every year it’s gotten worse.”
A core group of senators, Republicans and Democrats, has been eying a deal that would provide money for the wars overseas in exchange for changes to the asylum process and in particular humanitarian parole, which has been a go-to tool by the Biden administration to manage the swell of migrants at the border, but is being challenged in court.
Negotiating behind closed doors, the senators have discussed making it tougher for migrants to pass initial screening used by asylum officers to decide whether a person can stay in the country to pursue their asylum case.
The idea is to raise the threshold during what’s known as the initial credible fear interview for asylum claims from a “significant possibility” of success before an immigration judge to “more likely than not,” according to those familiar with the private talks and who were granted anonymity to discuss them.
While an overwhelming majority of asylum-seekers clear the initial interviews, the final approval rate is much lower. That’s fueling critics’ complaints that the screening standard is too low and allows many asylum-seekers to remain in the country for years while their cases wind through backlogged courts and eventually fail. --->READ MORE HERE
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Ukraine Aid for Border Security Would Be a Win-Win:
Could the war in Ukraine lead to long-overdue U.S. immigration reform? Stranger things have happened, and right now Democrats and Republicans have good reason to suspend the performative indignation and finger-pointing and cut a deal.
Because no major immigration legislation has passed since Ronald Reagan was president, the first thing to do is lower expectations and think small. The stakes aren’t complicated. The White House wants Congress to approve additional aid to Ukraine, and Republicans want to make that aid contingent on tougher requirements for foreigners seeking asylum in the U.S.
Migrants from Latin America in search of work have been exploiting our generous asylum policies for decades—and with increasing brazenness. Illegal entries at our southern border have reached record levels in recent years, and it should surprise no one that people from other parts of the globe are noticing. The Associated Press reported last month that more than 22,000 Chinese nationals were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol between January and September, which is more than the previous 10 years combined.
Voters will head to the polls next year, and the Democrats who can read opinion surveys concede that lawlessness at the Mexican border is damaging President Biden’s re-election prospects. Democratic mayors and governors have implored Washington for relief from the flood of foreign nationals taxing social services. Incumbent Democrats who anticipate competitive races next year, such as Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, are running campaign ads that call for enhanced border security.
For their part, Republicans ought to have an interest in showing the country that they are capable of something other than government shutdowns and self-destructive infighting, which may be the party’s most distinguishing characteristics heading into 2024. Moving the ball in a constructive direction on a priority for their base can only help the GOP on Election Day.
This dynamic helps to explain why a bipartisan group of senators that includes Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Thom Tillis (R., N.C.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) worked through Thanksgiving break on a legislative compromise that would address abuses of the asylum system. And it explains why Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday told his Democratic colleagues that “we will need bipartisan cooperation and compromise to achieve a reasonable, realistic agreement” and urged them “to engage” their Republican colleagues. --->READ MORE HERE
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