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Migrant Justice Newsletter - DEC 2023


Border security continues to be a hot button issue in Congress. And some congressional leaders are holding hostage other non-border issues because of their tough stance on immigration and desire to gut US asylum law. 

In last month’s newsletter, we shared an article about a one-page document that three Republican senators submitted to President Biden on November 6, summarizing the border and migration proposals they demand to include in the supplemental budget request that the president is submitting for the war in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and the US-Mexico border. The draconian measures include: ban asylum access for people who did not cross the border at ports of entry; ban asylum access for people who pass through other countries without seeking asylum there; heighten eligibility standards to pass a credible fear interview; expand migrant detention (including families and children); restrict temporary humanitarian parole.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) responded in a combined letter on December 14, denouncing that: “Republicans continue to hold funding for America’s allies hostage at the expense of migrants and to pass Trump-era border policies.” 

Senator Alex Padilla (chair of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee) said: “… a return to Trump-era policies…is not the fix, in fact it will make the problem worse. Mass detention, gutting our asylum system. Title 42 on steroids. It is unconscionable. That is not the way to fix our immigration system.”

Senator Bob Menéndez has been vocal in opposition to the US border-Ukraine talks. “Not a single member of the CHC was given a heads-up that the administration would be proposing or considering these right-wing non-starters, despite outreach for many of us over the last several weeks from requesting to meet in person with a White House chief of staff. That is a hard slap in the face to all the Latino and immigrant communities we represent.” 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus) warned: “…what is on the table are policies so extreme that if enacted, it would literally be the most exclusionary restrictive immigration legislation since the racial quota laws of the 1920s, literally turning the clock back 100 years.” said CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Both the CHC and the CPC agree that if these restrictive policies are enacted, conditions at the southern border will worsen, further alienating voters who worry about chaos there.

IRTF encourages all our readers to contact their US reps and senators over the holiday break. Urge that they vote against any further restrictions on the asylum process and against expansion of immigration detention. For background to help make your case, see the articles in this newsletter, especially “How U.S. Policy Toward Latin America Has Fueled Historic Numbers of Asylum Seekers” and “WOLA Urges Congress to Protect Asylum and Update Obsolete Border Policies.” 

Our current advocacy campaign regarding the presidential election in Guatemala echoes what WOLA associate Adam Isaacson said in his testimony to congressional leaders. Addressing the root causes of migration is about more than money to fight poverty and boost health care and education. It’s about fostering democracy and installing mechanisms to end corruption. The soft coup against President-elect Arevalo in Guatemala is a prime example of the need to strengthen democracy. “People don’t flee countries that have responsible, accountable governments,” said Isaacson to members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee in his testimony on November 30.

Read the full IRTF Migrant Justice Newsletter each month at .