Taps Coogan – February 1st, 2024
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This is likely to be an unpopular take among many readers of this site, but here we go anyway:
There are widely circulated claims that the immigration deal under negotiations would allow 5,000 illegal immigrants to enter the US everyday. Those claims are not accurate.
Reportedly, here is how the deal actually works. Via NBC:
“Migrants would not be able to just cross the border illegally under the new bill. It would end the practice of “catch and release,” in which Border Patrol agents release migrants into the U.S. while they await immigration hearings.
Instead, migrants who tried to cross the border illegally would be detained immediately, with their asylum claims decided while they were in detention. People would be removed immediately within 15 days if they failed their asylum claim interviews.
What about migrants who try to cross legally with asylum claims?
If the deal were to become law, migrants who come to the U.S. border at official ports of entry would be diverted to a new “removal authority program” in which they would have 90 days to make their initial asylum interviews. Those migrants would not be released into the interior of the U.S., either; they would either be detained or kept under government supervision.
If they failed their initial asylum interviews, they would be removed immediately…
So where did this 5,000-a-day figure come from?
The bipartisan deal does include provisions that would shut down the border entirely if a certain threshold is hit, but those are border encounters, not crossings. As noted above, no migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally would be allowed into the country unless they passed asylum interviews or were being held under government supervision.
In addition to those provisions, the Department of Homeland Security could close the border if too many migrants were showing up with asylum claims.”
Critically, the deal would also tighten the rules under which migrants can claim asylum. It would require more evidence that a migrant has a real asylum claim that would prevail in court (torture, religious persecution, etc…). Such changes, which have been temporarily implemented, have already resulted in the asylum approval rate dropping from over 80% to less than half.
Changes to immigration law require a 60-vote super majority in the Senate. Based on the seats up for election in the Senate this year, there is no chance that the GOP secures the 60 Senate seats needed to pass immigration reform under a Trump presidency. The setup for the 2026 election is also unlikely to produce a GOP super majority, even if 2024 goes well for the GOP.
This is likely the best chance Republicans will get for another decade to pass a into actual law a bill that ends catch-and-release and tightens the legal threshold for claiming asylum under every future president, including future Democrat presidents who will otherwise be able to abuse loopholes in the immigration system as we see currently unfolding.