tags: Press Releases

On Immigration and Asylum Negotiations: No Democrat Should Go Along with GOP Efforts to “Define What’s on the Table or Who’s in the Room”

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Washington, DC – As America’s Voice highlighted earlier this month, Republicans are seeking to use the supplemental funding process to enact a host of permanent and draconian immigration and asylum policy changes and some Senate Democrats – disturbingly – seem open to the discussion. 

In addition to the four key points on the negotiations that America’s Voice highlighted earlier in November (shared again below), the question of which Senators and Members of Congress are involved in these negotiations is essential. As Rafael Bernal writes in an important story in The Hill,Hispanics warn of dangerous trap in Ukraine-for-border talks”:  

“Hispanics in Congress are snubbing discussions of tying Ukraine funding to GOP-backed asylum changes, but immigration advocacy groups, furious at the very suggestion, are worried that Latinos are unrepresented at the negotiating table.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is steering clear of the ongoing Senate talks, which are premised on asylum reform proposals that obliterate every red line in the immigration advocacy agenda. But outside advocates say Latino voices are necessary whenever Congress discusses issues that disproportionately affect Hispanics.

‘We are alarmed and deeply concerned that key talks in Congress about border policies and the treatment of humanitarian migrants are happening without a single Hispanic lawmaker or ally in the room,’ said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS. ‘The stakes are too high and the impact on our community too great for our community’s perspective to be ignored. Latinos, like most Americans, want effective and humane solutions to strengthen our borders and to protect those seeking safety and opportunity in our country.’”

The following is a statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“No Democrat should reward Republicans’ extremism, brinkmanship and attempt to make damaging and permanent policy changes via a short-term funding vehicle. We need a wholesale modernization of our immigration system. Yet that process needs to take place via regular order and involve a full-scale set of policy reforms, not just deterrence-only efforts being shoehorned into a short-term funding debate by Republicans.

Of course, the supplemental debate isn’t a binary choice between avoiding border/asylum issues altogether or delivering on Republicans’ wish list of restrictions. In fact, Congress should advance bipartisan solutions to provide smart resources that make the existing process work better and streamline funding to American cities who are housing and feeding asylum seekers while they wait for permission to work legally – all while not permanently blocking access to safety. But no Democrat should be under the illusion that innocuous sounding phrases such as ‘safe third country’ agreements mean anything other than an attempt to gut asylum as we know it. They do not need to capitulate to the Trump and Stephen Miller agenda, nor go along with GOP attempts to define what’s on the table and who’s in the room.

That larger reform discussion also must include a wider range of genuine immigration experts in the Senate, including a number of Latino Senators and others representing states rich with large immigrant populations. Democrats should not let Republicans or former Democrats acting in bad faith define and restrict what a reform debate needs to focus on or who gets to be involved in those negotiations.

Additional Background and Resources