Statement from Refugees International:
“The Senate supplemental bill released last night is a major missed opportunity to address needs at the border and in U.S. communities that welcome asylum seekers. While there are several positive measures proposed in the bill, they are overshadowed by policies that will harm refugees and increase disorder at the border. The bill’s prohibition on U.S. funding for UNRWA is also a step backward, despite the inclusion of badly needed supplemental humanitarian assistance.
Refugees International welcomes the bill’s preservation of parole programs and a pathway for adjustment to permanent status for Afghans. Yet, even some of the bill’s “sweeteners”—such as the expedited work permits for certain asylum seekers—are unnecessarily restrictive, leaving many people ineligible for them. The closed-door formulation of the bill excluded input from elected officials and affected communities, causing it to miss much of what is needed to meaningfully improve conditions at the border, reception of asylum seekers in the United States, or protections for displaced people within the Americas. Notably, the bill does not expand processing capacity at land border ports of entry or include steps to better coordinate reception of asylum seekers moving from the U.S. border to interior cities.
This bill also contains several damaging measures that would harm refugees. It curtails access to asylum by raising the standard and rushing initial screenings. It mandates the use of a Title 42-like expulsion process triggered by what is now a common level of border encounters. The law would in practice block from protection—and expel to harm—many people with meritorious claims. Many of the expelled would join those waiting for scarce CBP One appointments on the Mexican side of the border—lacking shelter, employment, and exposed to further exploitation by cartels.
Years of expedited screenings and blocking asylum have failed to bring either greater order or greater humanity to the border. Codifying these policies may score some immediate political points but will mean enduring harm for people seeking safety. Congress and the President should stop trying to link asylum reform to the badly needed emergency supplemental and instead work to develop a truly comprehensive approach to protection and reception.”
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