“This Deal Will Harm” – Immigration Activists Slam Senate’s $20 Billion Border Deal

A new border and immigration deal being negotiated by the Senate is now facing considerable backlash from activist groups and even Senate lawmakers. 

Activist Groups Speak Out

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Immigration activist groups have condemned a new immigration and border deal being negotiated in the Senate, potentially making the already fraught negotiations even more difficult.

$118 Billion Proposal

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On Sunday, negotiators in the Senate declared a new proposal that outlined a $118 billion spending deal package after weeks of disagreements between Conservative and Republican representatives. 

Military Aid and Immigration Funding

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The deal includes billions in aid for Ukraine and Israel. Still, one of the most contentious components is a proposal for $20 billion in funding to be put toward the southern U.S.-Mexico border and other immigration-related issues.

A New Border Authority

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It proposes a new three-year border emergency authority tasked with addressing the historic crisis at the border.

If border encounters reach a certain threshold, this emergency authority will be able to expel all immigrants at the border except for unaccompanied children.

Changes to Asylum Seeker Status

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The deal also includes new considerations to be introduced around “credible fear” screening and eligibility for migrants claiming asylum.

More Staff, Infrastructure and Legal Pathways

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It will add increased pathways toward legal immigration, and billions will go toward extra staff and improved infrastructure for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Critics on Both Sides

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But critics on both the left and the right have railed against the deal.

Immigrant activist groups claim it will harm arriving migrants and illegal immigrants who are already in the country, while some conservatives claim it will encourage the current levels of illegal immigration.

ACLU Speaks

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One of the most vocal groups is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a non-profit human rights organization that previously filed a lawsuit against the Covid-era Title 42. 

No Due Process

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The ACLU has declared that the deal will “force the government to summarily expel people from the border without due process, restricting legal pathways for the people who need them most.” 

“It Won’t Give Support

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Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, said, “Eliminating longstanding, core due process protections like court review of asylum cases and doubling down on harmful deterrence and detention policies are not going to get cities and states the support they need.”

A Great Step Forward, One Step Back

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The American Immigration Council has also chimed in, acknowledging the bipartisan push to confront the border problem as a “great step forward,” but expressing dissatisfaction with the deal itself.

An Incomplete Bill

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“Unfortunately, while this bill identifies many of the critical issues that need to be addressed to help us more effectively manage our southern border,” said AIC director Jeremy Robbins, “it is incomplete in some respects and would be unnecessarily harmful in others.” 

“Proven to be Harmful”

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“Its key proposal for responding to increasing arrivals at the border — summary expulsions of individuals who are seeking humanitarian protections — is an approach that has proven to be a harmful and counterproductive policy under both the Trump and Biden administrations.”  

“Playing Politics”

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Michael Breen, CEO of the nonpartisan international human rights organization Human Rights First, directed their criticisms across the government, accusing officials in Washington of “playing politics in ways that threaten refugees’ and other migrants’ lives.”

Partisan Posturing, Political Games?

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“Our government’s leaders must stop viewing the border as a numbers game,” Breen said.

“The United States cannot deny someone the right to seek safety and protection just because they are number 5,001 in line that day. The partisan posturing and political games being played in Washington serve no one.”

Senate Lawmakers Aren’t Happy

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Even Senate lawmakers have spoken out about the package deal. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J, who famously called for improved pathways to citizenship for migrants and was a major advocate for the 2021 immigration reform bill, said the bill is unacceptable. 

Reneging on A Deal

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He accused the Senate of reneging on a promise to include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus while writing the deal, and now expected them to “fall in line on a deal that directly impacts millions within our communities and will forever reshape America’s immigration system.”

A Community Betrayal

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“Accepting this deal as written would be an outright betrayal to the communities we have sworn an oath to protect and represent,” he said.

Endorsed by Biden and Co.

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Despite the controversy the deal has provoked, it has been endorsed by Senate leaders and Biden’s administration, including the President and Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

“Tough, Fair, and Meaningful”

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Homeland Security has also released a statement via Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who described the agreement as “tough, fair, and takes meaningful steps to address the challenges our country faces after decades of Congressional inaction.”

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