The House Appropriations Committee recently passed government spending bills for the next fiscal year that includes numerous pro-immigrant reforms, including a 25% drop from the current federal immigration detention levels, as well as the exemption of Special Immigrant Juvenile from visa caps, the American Immigration Council said.
But those positive reforms were “overshadowed” by committee approval of a Republican-pushed amendment that would continue Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum Title 42 order indefinitely. “The amendment would force DHS to continue expelling migrants under Title 42 until 180 days after the COVID-19 national emergency expires—something which may not occur for years to come.”
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American Immigration Council Policy Director Aaron Reichlin-Melnick said that Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse’s proposal passed the committee via voice vote, which puts no one on the record. Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro chairs the committee and the Health and Human Services subcommittee; retiring Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard chairs the subcommittee on Homeland Security.
“Despite Appropriations Chairwoman Roybal-Allard speaking in opposition to the amendment, it passed on a voice vote,” he said. “Not a single member of the committee openly voted ‘no’ on the amendment.” Border Report said that DeLauro had called the order “a failure,” noting that migrants “expelled under Title 42 take increasingly dangerous paths to evade (border agents), leading to deaths.”
But Reichlin-Melnick importantly noted “just because the amendment made it into the bill does not necessarily mean it will become law. The DHS funding bill is often the most controversial of the 12 bills necessary to fund the federal government, and in recent years Congress has often failed to pass the bill,” instead funding the government through a continuing resolution. But as it stands, the anti-asylum amendments have passed the committee. Hundreds of organizations are now urging House leaders to ensure they do not get a floor vote.
“The Title 42 policy was never justified as a public health measure,” more than 200 organizations write. “Senior CDC experts objected to the policy from its inception,” but was pushed through under political pressure from Mike Pence and Stephen Miller. Every day that the U.S. continues this order is in fact another day we violate our own laws. “Expulsions have blocked people in need of protection from exercising their legal right to seek asylum without so much as a screening for asylum eligibility, as is required under U.S. law,” they note.
“We urge you to ensure that these amendments are not included in any legislation that receives a vote on the House floor,” groups continued. “Permitting these bills to proceed would irreparably taint decades of congressional commitment to protect refugees and asylum seekers. With countless lives at stake, we expect you to protect, not undermine, the rights of asylum seekers.” Efforts to continue Stephen Miller’s anti-immigrant work for him have been ongoing in both chambers. In the Senate, a small group of vulnerable Democrats, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, said they’d support a GOP effort to continue the policy indefinitely.
After enforcing it for longer than the previous administration ever did, the Biden administration finally moved to end the debunked policy, in May. But GOP-led states were successful in blocking that move, as part of an overall effort using right-wing courts to sabotage the president’s immigration agenda. The Supreme Court said last month that the administration lawfully acted in trying to end another anti-asylum policy, Remain in Mexico. Title 42 is likely to result in a similar, and lengthy, legal fight. In the meantime, it’ll be vulnerable families that will continue to suffer.
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