WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) strongly opposes the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, introduced yesterday by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28th) and Tony Gonzales (R-TX 23rd).
This bill resurrects harmful policies from the Trump administration that would subject asylum seekers to expedited asylum screenings that frequently result in individuals’ and families’ rapid deportations back to the conditions they fled. Additionally, the bill proposes increasing criminal penalties and obstacles to sponsorship for relatives of unaccompanied children, reminiscent of the now-rescinded Trump-era memorandum of understanding that left children languishing in detention while their parents or caregivers were arrested and deported. Finally, the bill would further inflate the budget of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest federal law enforcement agency in the United States, which would expand the militarization and surveillance of Black, Brown, and indigenous communities in the border region.
Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center, stated in response: "
"If we learned anything from the past four years and this broken immigration system, it is that expedited, restrictionist, and deterrence policies do not work. Only a humanitarian response can address the needs of asylum seekers and unaccompanied children. Giving more money to CBP, a rogue and abusive agency that has killed and mistreated so many, is not the answer either.
“This bill embraces a newer version of the Trump-era rushed asylum processing programs, where asylum seekers were forced to present their claims within 72 hours, while in CBP detention, a system that set people up to fail and to be unjustly deported. This bill would also cause delays in the reunification process of unaccompanied children with their loved ones in the United States, at a time when expediting such reunifications is paramount. We have seen the horrifying impact of criminalizing people who step forward to sponsor unaccompanied children, including prolonging those children’s time in squalid and cruel CBP detention conditions.
“Relying on CBP to transform the asylum processing system is a tragically flawed approach. Congress and the Biden administration should be focused on providing a bold and inclusive path to citizenship for undocumented communities, and embracing a truly humanitarian approach to unaccompanied children and asylum seekers at the border. Experts and advocates have provided numerous solutions for transforming the U.S. asylum system toward a welcoming orientation, including the creation of welcoming centers and the development of robust community-based case management programs instead of the current reliance on detention. The answers are out there. This bill is not the answer.”