Washington, DC — At the end of a busy week of negotiations on the President’s emergency supplemental budget request to fund aid to Ukraine and other allies and to fund border and asylum measures, we are struck by how many reporters and commentators are adopting the Republican frame to define the negotiations as being between “border security” and doing nothing on immigration, asylum and border policy.
As America’s Voice detailed yesterday, “Republicans Are Not Pushing For ‘Border Security;’ Instead, They Would Create Chaos and Disorder.” The details and policy specifics of what is actually on the table in Senate negotiations and being driven by the GOP are a far cry from so-called “border security.” They would, in fact, eviscerate the asylum system, narrow legal channels for migration, and create more chaos while giving the U.S. less control. They would not address how we manage the global and hemispheric migration challenge, but simply fall back on deterrence and “getting tough,” which are strategies with a 50-year track record of failure.
According to Douglas Rivlin, America’s Voice Senior Director of Communication:
“Republicans are not pushing for ‘border security’ nor orderly solutions to global migration. Instead, as they hug Trump’s vision of MAGA nativism, they are trying to force through extreme policy changes that are based on a failed strategy of ‘get tough and when that doesn’t work get tougher.’ Donald Trump took children from their mothers with no plan to give them back, but did that stop people from fleeing Haiti, Venezuela or Cuba and coming to the U.S. for safety? No, the numbers went up.
Democrats and the White House should be able to articulate what they are trying to do, which is manage the reality that people are coming, that we need an orderly – and resourced – process that channels people to ports of entry, aids communities in the U.S. welcoming or sheltering newcomers, and gets immigrants working to fill labor shortages to build up the economy as quickly as possible. They are not seeking to eviscerate asylum, end legal immigration pathways, or, in the process, compound the cruelty and chaos at the border.
Democrats are striving for common sense solutions that work for America, while Republicans only have a political card to play that does nothing but create fear, chaos and discontent with no resolution. Deterrence-only policy doesn’t work and moves us farther from real solutions.
The real solutions to addressing 21st-century global migration involve Congress legislating a broader immigration modernization, but in the interim, the Biden administration’s supplemental request and the range of voices pushing back strongly against the Senate negotiation trajectory offer a way forward that prioritizes orderliness, not inhumane and ineffective suppression and deterrence.”
To be clear, border security and less immigration are two different things. There are two distinct visions of what the challenges are and the problems to be solved, which has opponents of immigration talking past the rest of us because our goals are different.
For opponents of immigration, like many in the Republican Party, the challenge is that too many people, particularly people of color, are coming to seek asylum through our legal system and that they must be deterred from doing so. And some in the GOP couch this in stark, white nationalist terms because they feel they are defending the country from a hostile “invasion,” brought on by Democrats to undermine the country, which is among the widely believed conspiracy theories promoted by top GOP leadership, like Speaker Johnson.
Advocates like us, and many Democrats, define the challenge of our border and asylum system as one of management: making the process by which people seek asylum more orderly, coordinated, safe and legal so there is less chaos at the border or in American cities.
A joint statement issued by 188 organizations across immigrant advocacy, faith, civil liberties and service groups, lead by Human Rights First and first reported on in Politico, makes the case for what needs to be done:
Congress should advance bipartisan solutions to provide smart resources at the border that make the existing process work better while keeping communities safe. For example, Congress should increase funding to improve asylum processing; reduce backlogs and work permit waiting times; resource states, localities and community shelter and support services; and fund legal counsel.”
Many Democrats, including from the White House, Congress and cities agree. See below for key examples of the contrasting vision on display – including sharp condemnation from Democratic observers about the underlying political motivations driving many in the GOP:
- Brandon Johnson, Mayor of Chicago: per a Politico recap, Mayor Johnson “said he wants more federal funding and ‘better coordination’ out of Washington to manage what he calls an ‘international crisis.’ Johnson called the current action of loading migrants on buses and sending them to Chicago and other blue states ‘a raggedy’ process instituted by ‘right-wing extremism’ that has targeted Democratic-run cities led by people of color. ‘Their whole motivation is to create disruption and chaos.’”
- Dan Koh, White House deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, said: “We need more funding to execute on our border security management strategy, including enhancing our enforcement measures and supporting communities who are hosting recently arrived migrants. We want to be able to do more in terms of funding. Unfortunately, we have a bill in front of Congress that’s sitting there.”
- CHC Members: Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) said: “Along with funding for cities, I think there needs to be something to address the massive immigration backlogs. And to do that, we need more immigration judges and hearing officers.” and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA) said: “Certainly, we could add more border security. We need more judges, more staffing, more technology — certainly that could be something we could consider. But again, it all depends on the framework of the negotiations. There’s legitimate issues that have to be addressed, but as long as they’re done appropriately and not from a xenophobic approach.”
- Beatriz Lopez, Deputy Director of The Immigration Hub, wrote in an op-ed for The Messenger: “Our asylum system needs to be resourced — not destroyed. Immigration officers should be able to focus on public safety and national threats — not separating families.”
- 300 Employers organized by ABIC Action, released a statement that said: “With unemployment just below 4 percent and raging inflation hammering every American right before the Holidays, Congress and the President need to strengthen and expand parole and work permits — not weaken it. IIf Congress is serious about driving down inflation and labor shortages, it must uphold the Humanitarian parole authority and expand work permits for long-term immigrant contributors.”
- Also, ICYMI, read Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, “How Trump is wrecking hopes for a ‘reasonable’ Ukraine deal” with one of the more succinct overviews of why what Republicans are pushing for should be a non-starter: “[T]he demands from Tillis and his fellow Republican leading the talks, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, are not reasonable at all — they’re following Donald Trump’s playbook. Under the guise of seeking more ‘border security,’ they’re insisting on provisions that would reduce legal immigration in numerous ways that could even undermine the goal of securing the border.”
- Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, told Sargent, “Canceling parole would significantly heighten the pressures on the border and the numbers of migrant crossings. ‘It’s the opposite of what’s needed to strengthen border security.”
- Andrea Flores, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Campaigns at FWD.us and a former White House official said on a press call this week, “Democrats understandingly and rightfully should support border security and a more orderly border; those are all important democratic values for voters. But that is not what they are getting here.” Flores also characterized the Senate negotiations as “centering around anti-immigrant policies that were already tried and repeatedly failed to reduce pressure and chaos at the border.”