Washington, DC – The impending and overdue lifting of Title 42 next week has led to a flurry of immigration and border discussions and proposals. In contrast to a host of thoughtful proposals designed to advance sustainable solutions at the border and beyond in both the short- and long-run, new legislation being readied in both chambers of Congress rehash failed, cruel and unworkable policies that are more about political optics and campaign fundraising than about serious solutions.
In the Senate, Senators Kirsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are introducing new legislation that would both codify and go well beyond the cruelty and chaos of Title 42. Unlike the duo’s role in trying to forge a breakthrough during the last lame duck session of Congress – which would have balanced citizenship for Dreamers with asylum and border reforms – their latest legislative proposal replaces a balanced approach with a set of punitive policies that should be complete non-starters in the Democratically controlled Senate. Not only would it codify Title 42 for two additional years and remove the fig leaf of a public health justification, but, as Camilo Montoya-Galvez of CBS News noted, “… this bill would not exempt unaccompanied children from the mandatory border expulsions.”
As Kerri Talbot, deputy director of The Immigration Hub, told Beltway outlet Semafor about the Sinema-Tillis bill: “They were negotiating on DREAM for months and they were close to a bill … Frankly, I’m confused as to why they abandoned that approach and now we’re going with such an ugly partisan approach that excludes DREAMers and that would destroy our asylum system.” Also see analysis and condemnation of the legislation from leading policy experts such as Aaron Reichlin-Melnick and Cris Ramón for more on why the legislation would add more chaos and dysfunction.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are readying to vote on H.R. 2 legislation next week – a grab bag of extreme and unworkable policies that include throwing money at Trump’s wasteful and ineffective border wall; destroying legal pathways that alleviate border pressures, including via the CBP One app; and measures to gut asylum, increase child and family detention, and create “show-me-your-papers” requirements in the midst of disaster relief. As their accompanying messaging summary from Speaker Kevin McCarthy demonstrates (see our take here), the GOP bill is more about political attack lines and MAGA fundraising than about advancing real solutions.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“Both the Sinema-Tillis bill and the House GOP legislation are partisan ‘more-of-the-same’ rehashes and aren’t serious attempts to address hemispheric migration or to modernize our broken immigration system. Notably, Sinema and Tillis walk away from Dreamers, walk away from unaccompanied children, walk away from seven decades of asylum law and walk away from common sense compared to their original bill last year. Instead, the efforts in both the House and Senate embrace failed, cruel, extreme and unworkable policies based on deterrence, detention and deportation. These proposals are designed for political optics, attacks on Biden, and juicing fundraising, just like border photo-ops and the sham Mayorkas impeachment. Neither proposal has a legislative future that will land them on the President’s desk and should not be mistaken for real solutions.”