Statement | Congress

News from EPI Senate should reject deal that would punish asylum seekers and trade away human rights for temporary defense funding

After weeks of closed-door negotiations, Senate negotiators published legislative text on Sunday night reflecting the framework of a funding deal to trade harmful, permanent changes to the asylum system and immigration enforcement in exchange for a one-time defense supplemental funding package.

EPI urges all senators to vote no on the legislation, and we urge President Biden to veto this bill if it reaches his desk. As we’ve explained previously, these changes will not improve the situation at the border, and some of the provisions in the deal are inconsistent with U.S. obligations under international law to protect persons fleeing persecution.

We are appalled that Republicans may succeed in extracting cruel and ineffective border policies through appropriations legislation, despite admitting that they would struggle to get these policy concessions if they controlled the Senate or if Donald Trump was president. And we are shocked that President Biden and a group of Democratic senators seem eager and willing to trade away human rights and basic protections for current and future immigrants, seemingly without even attempting to deliver a path to citizenship for Dreamers and other long-time residents who lack status.

In addition, we are disappointed that the lead Senate negotiators have limited experience drafting legislation related to immigration as the talks reportedly excluded many of the congressmembers who have the deepest knowledge of immigration law, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other members who represent many immigrant communities and border regions in their home states.

We also fear that the legislative process is being rushed. Senate Leader Schumer has promised a vote on the legislation “no later than Wednesday.” That would only allow Senate staffers a limited amount of time to read a 370-page bill that makes permanent changes to the immigration system and contains numerous provisions that are almost unanimously opposed by immigrants’ rights activists and many progressive legislators. The process until now has been characterized by a concerning lack of transparency, which limited the likelihood that any policy outcome of this deal would be fair, humane, or rational. Now that we’ve seen the text, we know it will never be. This framework must be soundly rejected.

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