U.S COMMITTEE FOR REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
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USCRI Opposes Proposed Border Deal, Urges Senators to Save Asylum

By USCRI February 5, 2024

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) strongly opposes the newly unveiled deal in the U.S. Senate that would dramatically curtail the right to seek asylum in exchange for unrelated foreign assistance.

“USCRI unequivocally opposes proposals that would compromise the ability of the United States to offer protections for those fleeing persecution in pursuit of safety,” USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash said. “This long-rumored deal does exactly that with life-and-death consequences for families and children.”

Under newly released text from the agreement, called the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024, lawmakers have proposed 1) raising the credible fear standard, 2) establishing additional asylum bars, and 3) creating a new “border emergency authority,” similar to Title 42, that would be invoked if certain thresholds for encounters are met on the southwest border.

This authority would prohibit the entry of individuals into the United States, summarily remove individuals who would then be ineligible for asylum, and create a one-year inadmissibility bar on individuals removed two or more times by this authority.

“The new border emergency authority would permanently codify the cruelty and chaos of Title 42,” Negash said. “President Biden’s strong support for this agreement, including the new authority for expulsions, is an utter betrayal of his promises to restore asylum.”

USCRI believes this harmful package is, in part, the result of an extremely flawed process that sidelined civil society and the vast majority of Congress’ upper chamber.

For weeks, a group of lawmakers including Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona drafted the agreement’s provisions behind closed doors. The 370-page agreement and its summary were released on the evening of February 4. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York made the first procedural motion on the package on February 5 and said in a statement the potential vote would be scheduled for February 7.

“Changes to immigration law of this magnitude must be considered carefully,” Negash said. “This process has been a disaster from start to finish– and this rushed deliberation will predictably result in unintended consequences across our immigration system and on vulnerable populations, such as refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and asylum seekers.”

“Changes to immigration law of this magnitude must be considered carefully,” Negash said. “This process has been a disaster from start to finish– and this rushed deliberation will predictably result in unintended consequences across our immigration system and on vulnerable populations, such as refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and asylum seekers.”

USCRI firmly believes the agreement’s provisions on asylum would cause widespread, permanent harm to the United States’ commitments under domestic and international law to uphold human rights and welcome persecuted individuals and families.

“The U.S. resettlement system requires additional funds to meet the needs of eligible populations— and Afghan and Ukrainian newcomers need support as well,” Negash said. “However, we refuse to trade protections and support for some populations at the expense of others.”

“The framing of this ‘bipartisan’ agreement embodies the selective humanity that too often dominates our responses to migration,” Negash added.

“Migrants’ lives for foreign aid— or pathways for some but punishment for others,” he concluded. “This deal is rotten to the core and it must be defeated swiftly and soundly.”

 

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-government, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

For press inquiries, please contact: [email protected].

 


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