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Senate Bill Threatens Asylum Seekers, Refugee Children, DACA and TPS Recipients

The government shutdown is hurting families and communities and must end, but Trump’s “deal” and the bill Senator Mitch McConnell introduced this week are filled with poison pills that threaten serious harm for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The bill would completely bar Central American children from seeking asylum on the southern border, and eviscerate protections found in anti-trafficking law for unaccompanied migrant children seeking protection in the United States.

Furthermore, the bill offers no new relief for people whose Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) the president has sought to terminate. In fact, the bill would put many DACA and TPS recipients currently protected under federal court orders at risk of deportation. Finally, the proposed bill would funnel tax dollars to expand detention and deportation systems.

Among the bill’s lowlights:

  • Builds the wall and creates a slush fund for further border militarization.
  • Dramatically increases the number of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail beds.
  • Hires new Border Patrol and ICE agents.
  • Fails to include real relief for DACA-mented individuals. The bill only protects a fraction of all Dreamers, imposes new barriers to obtaining even temporary protection, and does not provide permanent protection from deportation.
  • Fails to protect all TPS holders. The bill only protects individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti, excluding TPS recipients from numerous African countries who are facing a stripping of their status. The individuals in those four countries get to apply for a three-year, one-time temporary status at double the cost and under new standards.
  • Eliminates the availability of TPS for the future. If you are undocumented in the United States when your home country suffers a natural disaster or armed conflict, you would not be protected from deportation.
  • Adds new restrictions to the DACA and TPS programs that ensure that large numbers of people currently protected by court cases will become deportable.
  • Bans asylum for Central American minors and eviscerates the Trafficking Victims Protection Act for unaccompanied kids.
  • Creates a sham CAM (Central American Minors) Program. The program would not be operational for nearly a year, but immediately upon enactment of the bill, Central American minors would become ineligible for asylum at the border.
  • Makes permanent and nefarious asylum procedure changes to reduce grants of asylum protection.
  • Hires additional immigration judges. These resources would fall far short of what is needed to shore up the immigration court system, which the Trump administration has mired with unprecedented backlogs.

NIJC calls on Congress to reject Trump's repeated efforts to hold government workers hostage and use people whose immigration status he terminated as bargaining chips. We stand with United We Dream, UndocuBlack Network, and the thousands of DACA and TPS holders who continue to lead the movement to hold the U.S. government accountable to respect human rights, and who have rejected these proposals.