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Democrats want legalization for undocumented in exchange for asylum reform

Nov 29, 2023

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Congress is trying to address multiple urgent issues in an upcoming supplemental funding bill, including humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians and military assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region. However, Republicans want the package to include changes to immigration policy, which is proving to be a sticking point for the two sides struggling to make a deal.

“It’s the Republicans holding this up by their insistence on an extraneous and partisan issue,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a press conference.

Republicans want to reform asylum and parole.

“This is a humanitarian crisis. It’s a homeland security crisis. We can’t look past it,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said. 

Republicans want to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from using the immigrant parole program that President Biden started in January. The program allows 30,000 people per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti to live and work in the United States for two years. 

“If you read the plain letter of the law, it’s supposed to be on a case-by-case basis,” Tillis, a lead negotiator, told reporters. “You can’t make a case for 30,000 people without knowing the 30,000 individual circumstances. He’s done that.”

On asylum, the GOP wants to increase the credible fear standard for initial screenings which members contend will reduce meritless claims.

“If 80% of the cases, when they finally come to trial, are adjudicated as not having a valid claim then we’re not doing a very good job of triaging the cases,” Tillis said. “And you know, what’s really sad about that? What about the poor people that we’re not getting to that actually have a valid claim?”

But a group of 11 Democrats came out against this proposal, and said changes to asylum law must include a pathway to legalization for long-standing undocumented immigrants. 

“Let’s make sure that we have immigration for opportunity,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said. “Take a look at those folks coming over the fences, you know, they are breaking the law and they need to be held accountable for it. But the bottom line is there are many immigrants wanting to come in this country who will make it a better country to live in.”

The funding package includes military support for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, but also includes money for Ukraine’s government to pay its employees like first responders. The package also includes money for food in countries around the world struggling with hunger.

Sen. Schumer said the plan is to vote on a package next week, even if there’s no deal on border security. If that’s the case, Republicans said they will not vote for it. Tillis said he won’t sign off on any deal that can’t get a “yes” vote from at least 25 Republicans. 

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Congress is trying to address a number of urgent issues in an upcoming supplemental funding bill, including humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians, military assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region. But Republicans want the package to include changes to immigration policy which is proving to be a sticking point for the two sides struggling to make a deal. 

 

“It’s the Republicans holding this up by their insistence on an extraneous and partisan issue,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a press conference.  

 

Republicans want to reform asylum and parole. 

 

“This is a humanitarian crisis. It’s a homeland security crisis. We can’t look past it,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said. 

 

Republicans want to prohibit DHS from using the immigrant parole program President Biden started in January, which allows 30,000 people per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti to live and work in the United States for two years. 

 

“If you read the plain letter of the law, it’s supposed to be on a case by case basis. You can’t make a case for 30,000 people without knowing the 30,000 individual circumstances. He’s done that,” Tillis, who is a lead negotiator, told reporters. 

 

On asylum, the GOP wants to increase the credible fear standard for initial screenings which they say will reduce meritless claims. 

 

“If 80% of the cases, when they finally come to trial, are adjudicated as not having a valid claim then we’re not doing a very good job of triaging the cases. And you know, what’s really sad about that? What about the poor people that we’re not getting to that actually have a valid claim?” Tillis said. 

 

But a group of ten Democrats came out against this proposal, and said changes to asylum law must include a pathway to legalization for long-standing undocumented immigrants. 

 

“Let’s make sure that we have immigration for opportunity. Take a look at those folks coming over the fences, you know, they are breaking the law, and they need to be held accountable for it. But the bottom line is there are many immigrants wanting to come in this country who will make it a better country to live in,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters. 

 

The funding package includes military support for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, but also includes money for Ukraine’s government to pay its employees like first responders, and money for food in countries around the world struggling with hunger. 

 

Senator Schumer says the plan is to vote on a package next week, even if there’s no deal on border security, in which case Republicans say they will not vote for it. Tillis said he won’t sign off on any deal that can’t get a yes vote from at least 25 Republicans.