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In his latest column for the Washington Post, Greg Sargent details a new bill set to be introduced by the entire Democratic caucus in the Senate that will be “the basis for a substantive blueprint to respond to the asylum-seeking crisis — and, more broadly, an answer to Trump’s xenophobic and nativist nationalism, a vision to contrast with his.” The news comes just after Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey published a must-read piece laying bare, once again, the cruelty of the Trump administration, as the duo uncover the “sprawling operation” that would have allowed for the mass arrest and deportation of immigrant children and families in hopes of deterring future asylum seekers.
As Sargent notes:
The Democratic vision is that retreating on our international humanitarian commitments to asylum seekers is unacceptable, and that the problem can be managed better, through a combination of addressing home conditions, providing other avenues to apply, and rationalizing the process for arrivals. Providing counsel and better information, increasing their chances of success, would incentivize showing up for hearings.
Trump, by contrast, refuses to entertain the very idea of managing the problem without dramatically scaling back our humanitarian commitments. That’s a goal in itself. He and immigration adviser Stephen Miller just want far fewer immigrants here, and are deeply devoted to that end.
Those are the broad outlines of the debate we’ll be having in 2020, and it’s joined.
The following are statements from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice and Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch, in response to the introduction of Democratic legislation aimed at helping to alleviate the humanitarian crisis on our southern border.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Congratulations to the Senators who put this bill together. The Central American Reform and Enforcement Act recognizes that this crisis – a refugee and humanitarian crisis – needs to be met with with pragmatic solutions. This bill will bring order to the chaos fueled by the Trump administration’s mismanagement at our border, provide options and alternatives in the region for Central Americans those seeking safety, and, over time, will reduce out-migration from the northern triangle countries.
The Trump administration has fundamentally misread the nature of this crisis, which is why their cruel, deterrence-only strategy is failing. The situation at the border has changed radically in recent years. Fifteen years ago, most of those arriving at the border were single men from Mexico trying to evade authorities to seek work in America. Today most of those arriving are Central American families who are fleeing violence and seek out authorities so they can apply for refugee status. Most of the Central American families are fleeing a burning house. 75% of Central Americans screened by trained and experienced Asylum Officers in grueling two-hour interviews are deemed to have a credible fear of being returned. 75%. Trump’s cruelty is no match for families fleeing a burning house.
The proposed legislation tackles this challenge in all its dimensions. It gives Central Americans who are fleeing for their lives the opportunity to apply for refugee status in the United States such that decisions are made in a timely fashion, and ensures they show up for their interviews and comply with final decisions. Those who qualify are admitted; those that don’t are removed. It gives those fleeing the option of applying for refugee status in the region – and away from the border – incentivizing a more orderly resettlement process and a regional protection strategy. And it works to resolve the causes that compel Central Americans to migrate – an essential part of the solution that stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s mind-boggling decision to cut aid to the source countries.
Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch:
The Central America Reform and Enforcement Act is a much more realistic approach to restore orderliness and safety at the border rather than the cruel, chaotic, and failed policies of the Trump administration. The bill seeks to address root causes of instability in Northern Triangle countries and to manage the flow of refugees with fair, efficient, and humane processing for families and children at the border and in the region – critical, practical and effective solutions. Americans know how to address a surge in refugees, but our government has to be interested and willing to address the challenge, not politicize it. Democrats in the Senate are taking the right step by introducing legislation that not only ensures orderly border and refugee policies, but also treats families with dignity and enlists our neighbors in solutions to regional humanitarian, economic and public safety issues.