The U.S. Senate has voted down a long-awaited immigration bill that supporters of immigrant rights believed would deal a fatal blow to those seeking refuge. The law was introduced in response to a growing problem with border control along the Texas-Mexico border, where Texas is seeking to take over the federal border patrol.
Many believed the bill would not pass because Republican lawmakers would not support it. According to Macedo do Nascimento, a deal would have used immigration as a bargaining chip for war abroad, closing the borders to the most vulnerable people and increasing incarceration and deportations.
How The Republican Party Blocked the Immigration Bill
Before the vote, Human Rights Watch released a statement advocating for a compassionate and well-organized system at the border. According to a Human Rights Watch representative, the bill gutted many asylum protections and authorized “summary removals” of asylum-seekers without judicial review when a certain number of people cross the border irregularly, automatically returning them to danger. Also, new asylum programme fee reduces the appeal of lawful immigration
However, it also bargained with the lives of people seeking safety. For example, it gave the government discretion to provide counsel for unaccompanied children in immigration proceedings.
“United We Dream’s immigrant youth are aware that this harsh, anti-immigrant supplemental bill is going in the wrong way,” stated Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, the organization’s deputy director of federal advocacy, before the vote. “The Biden administration and Senate leadership are caving into M.A.G.A. Republicans who are utilizing immigrants as political props to expand their right-wing base.”
Additionally, the law included emergency powers that would have given the Department of Homeland Security the ability to close the border if, over the course of seven days, at least 4,000 migrants crossed. The border would have closed if such interactions had surpassed 5,000 on a seven-day average or 8,500 in a single day.
What The Immigration Bill Proposes
The measures aimed to lower the record-high number of border crossings, but the G.O.P.’s internal divisions over the agreement prevented it from garnering the necessary votes in the Senate. At the direction of former President Donald Trump, who is allegedly aiming to use border disruption as a political tactic against President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, Republican senators have mobilized against the agreement.
Additionally, the rejected law would have altered the requirements for “credible fear” in interviews related to asylum claims. Officers would have had to decide if immigrants and asylum seekers could move inside their nation or whether they lived safely in a third country before attempting to cross into the United States. Migrants with criminal backgrounds would have been denied.
Customs and Border Patrol confirmed the death of another migrant on February 6 in the Tijuana River in San Ysidro, California, on the U.S. side of the border, while legislators debated over the bill. Local reports state that the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department discovered the man dead and declared him dead near two open-air detention camps on a canal. This is the third fatality after a 29-year-old Guinean lady was found dead on October 11. On November 17, a second man from Guinea passed away in the exact location.
Concerns have been expressed by the American Friends Service Committee (A.F.S.C.) and other local organizations on the circumstances leading to the ongoing suffering in the lack of a well-organized system that allows individuals to secure refuge—in addition to being drenched and without any cover from heavy rain that was flooding surrounding rivers, over 100 migrants waited between the border barriers for more than ten hours on the day of this most recent fatality, according to volunteers giving humanitarian supplies at a holding facility dubbed Whisky 8.