Washington, DC – President Biden’s supplemental budget request delivered to Congress today makes many sensible investments in our border and asylum processing infrastructure that will help the U.S. manage the increasing forced migration of people throughout the Americas and beyond. Unfortunately, it also includes some funding for deterrence-only approaches that we know do not work. Still, it is a welcome contrast with House Republicans, whose only proposals on immigration involve cruelty, deterrence, building walls and deporting people – when they are not fighting amongst themselves or shutting down the functions of government. As documents from the White House claim, the President is investing in “a regional migration strategy focused on enforcement, diplomacy, and legal pathways and work authorization.”
While we continue analyzing the details, the most important positive aspects of the supplemental request are investments in making the system work better, not new ways to shut it down, including:
- Additional asylum officers and judges to adjudicate and resolve asylum cases;
- Investments in cities, states and communities at the border and across the country to shelter, accommodate and incorporate new immigrants more smoothly;
- A critical investment in USCIS to process requests for work permits to get people to work helping build the economy and filling labor shortages; and
- Expanding the capacity at ports of entry to process asylum seekers safely while increasing our ability to detect and interdict dangerous contraband, including fentanyl.
Less helpful investments include expanding deterrence-centric measures that are not needed or counter-productive. These include:
- Increasing detention bed capacity above the already too high level;
- Hiring more ICE and Border Patrol personnel when such funding is not needed; and
- Outsourcing deterrence, detention and deportation to other countries, when investments in migrant processing, safety and building more stable economies to keep people at home would be wiser.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, America’s Voice Executive Director:
“We welcome the positive aspects of this request which will have a significant impact on people’s lives, such as faster processing for asylum cases and work permits, and more funding for cities and border states. Our focus should always be on how to manage migration in a way that works for the American people and is consistent with our values. The President is proposing a few things we don’t think will work, but overall, we think he is moving the ball forward in an important way.”