Things are chaotic on Capitol Hill right now. The House is struggling to find its next Speaker. While this internal party debate bogs them down, the chamber cannot advance legislation. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and Congress is barreling towards a Nov. 17 deadline to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2024 or face the renewed threat of a shutdown.
A harmful, anti-immigrant agenda overshadows spending negotiations, as some lawmakers seek to attach harmful immigration measures to these critical bills.
The future of our nation’s migration system is caught up in all of this. A harmful, anti-immigrant agenda overshadows spending negotiations, as some lawmakers seek to attach harmful immigration measures to these critical bills.
A vocal cohort of House legislators are attempting to push through policies that could never pass the Senate if voted on as stand-alone bills. Things like increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s abusive immigration enforcement system, border militarization practices, anti-asylum policies, and dangerous, ineffective deterrence proposals.
House Leaders Have Repeatedly Tried to Pass Harmful Migration Policies in the 118th Congress
Earlier this year, the House passed its Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2). This bill contains harsh and dehumanizing policies that would ramp up deportations and detention and further limit the right to seek asylum. FCNL has adamantly opposed this legislation.
Lawmakers brought up H.R. 2 again during negotiations to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30. That attempt failed, and Congress averted a government shutdown without sacrificing the needs and concerns of immigrant communities. Still, the Secure the Border Act and similar measures remain an ongoing threat during the current cycle of negotiations.
What Makes H.R. 2 So Harmful?
The Secure the Border Act contains several harmful and dehumanizing proposals, including policies that would reestablish family detention and cast out unaccompanied children from the United States.
If it became law, it would prevent faith and aid organizations from providing humanitarian care, shelter, and services to people seeking asylum as they flee violence and persecution.
And it would resurrect the Remain in Mexico policy, an initiative that kept many migrants stranded south of the U.S. border, leaving them vulnerable to assault and death.
Congress Must Reject Attacks on Migrants and Asylum Seekers in its FY2024 Spending Bills
Anti-asylum and ineffective enforcement practices masked as border security concessions must not be allowed to take root as Congress works to pass its FY2024 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill or weighs supplemental spending requests in the interim.
Instead, lawmakers should support programs and policies that ensure care and welcome for people who have weathered treacherous, dangerous journeys to the United States out of desperation to escape persecution.
It will take all of us working together to keep these harmful funding and policy decisions out of the final agreement.
We have alternatives that we know work. Humanitarian relief programs like the Shelter and Services Program are proven and successful first steps in migration management where community-based organizations and local governments can offer immediate transition and care for new arrivals—many of whom are connecting with relatives and communities in the U.S.—rather than forcing asylum seekers and migrants into border patrol custody after being processed.
Similarly, by prioritizing robust funding for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, lawmakers can improve our current immigration system by addressing the growing backlog of people waiting for asylum cases and work permits.
The House passed an FY24 DHS Appropriations bill that includes none of these practical and humane provisions and instead carries the chamber’s Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2) and more than $2 billion for a border wall. For now, it seems to be a non-starter in the Senate. But negotiations between the chambers will be grueling in the coming weeks, and there will be mounting pressure to compromise as the deadline to reach a spending agreement deal nearer. It will take all of us working together, alongside faith partners and impacted community members, to keep these harmful funding and policy decisions out of the final agreement.