Senate Republicans release proposal to overhaul border policies

Senate Republicans release proposal to overhaul border policies

A group of Senate Republicans have released their proposal to overhaul border policies from security to parole and asylum changes.

The group, made up of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Okla.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), has been meeting for weeks to try and put forth a border proposal with significant policy changes, not just additional funding for Border Patrol.

Read the full proposal.

In a nod to their counterparts across the Capitol, the Senate group says ideas in their proposal are “drawn from those found in H.R. 2,” House Republicans’ sweeping border bill that was built on former President Donald Trump’s policies to ramp up detentions and deportations and significantly scale back asylum options.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is leading talks on border security items that might be included in a broader supplemental funding bill, immediately panned the idea. “I can’t think of anything in H.R. 2 that would have been included in my package,” he told reporters Monday.

Four main policy adjustments in the Republican proposal include:

Border security: The proposal would bring back construction of the border wall and boost retention for Border Patrol agents, including changes to overtime benefits. It would also reimplement DNA testing at the border.

Asylum changes: This plan would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they transited through another country before showing up at the U.S. border, implementing what is called a “safe third country” rule. It would raise the bar of “credible fear” for asylum seekers from “significant possibility” to “more likely than not” in their home country. Migrants would be required to request asylum at a port of entry.

Parole changes: Parole would be limited to one year with the possibility of a one-year extension and would bar the Department of Homeland Security from “using class-based criteria to grant humanitarian parole.” It would codify the Cuban Family Reunification Program and spousal and children reunification for active duty military service members.

Authority similar to Title 42: This proposal would allow the broad suspension of entry for certain types of migrants, referred to as “inadmissible aliens,” if DHS decides it is necessary to “achieve operational control.” This authority is similar to Title 42, which allowed the U.S. to quickly turn back migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border for public health reasons during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The policy would also revive the controversial “remain in Mexico” policy that keeps asylum seekers outside the United States while their cases are processed. Many Democrats have said that if the border measures include that policy then they won’t accept the measures.

Leverage point: Republicans may try to make this package a condition of consideration of the Biden administration’s proposed package of aid for Ukraine and Israel.

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