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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Senate at standstill over border security, jeopardizing deal on Ukraine and Israel aid

Tens of billions of dollars of funding for Ukraine remains gridlocked in the Senate as Democrats and Republicans are at a standstill over which border security measures to attach to the supplemental bill. Democratic senators revolted after Republicans debuted a lengthy proposal Monday that they described as a policy solution to the Biden administration's illegal immigration crisis and the way that Democrats would get enough votes to pass the emergency funding bill. DEMOCRATS SPOOKED AFTER BIDEN SHOCK POLL AND FRET TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMEBACK "Yesterday, a group of Senate Republicans released a proposal for border security that they want in exchange for Ukraine funding," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a floor speech Tuesday. "They know full well what they came up with is a total nonstarter." Democrats, as well as immigrant advocacy groups, have revolted at the GOP's proposals to finish border wall projects and limit the asylum process, a return to Trump-era policies. Despite the White House's sense of urgency, the supplemental is in jeopardy as talks unfold behind closed doors. For three weeks, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have fallen short of the White House's call to pass emergency funding for Israel and Ukraine. The Biden administration proposed a $105 billion bill, most of which would go to both countries at war. Just $14 billion would go to U.S. border security, and Republicans decried money being pumped into the Biden administration's immigration plans without policy changes. The aid to Israel and Ukraine would be more than the total Department of Homeland Security budget for fiscal 2023: $63 billion. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said he recognized that although parties have end goals they want to achieve in any negotiation, they will have to reach a consensus, and Republicans' current ask is too comprehensive for what can reasonably be accomplished. The Biden administration wants supplemental funding to come through as soon as possible. “It's an unrealistic proposal,” Murphy told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. “We can't build an entire automobile between now and when we need to pass the supplemental. We can make some common sense changes to make things better on the border. We can't do a top-to-bottom rewrite of asylum laws, border barrier law, parole law, and detainment law." “Whatever we write is going to have to be a compromise. It's going to have to involve Republican priorities and Democratic priorities,” Murphy said. Chuck Schumer Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters about support for Israel following a closed-door caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, charged Republicans with holding Ukraine "hostage" over "cruel" immigration policies. On Monday afternoon, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and James Lankford (R-OK) unveiled a one-page document chock full of what they described as solutions “to fix the failed policies that are causing the crisis at the southern border.” Since President Joe Biden took office, more than 6 million people have walked across the border illegally and been apprehended by federal agents, more than any other time. The White House proposal would hire more immigration judges and Border Patrol than are on the books, but Republicans lamented that it did not include aggressive efforts to deter or stop illegal immigration, installing 30-foot border wall in popular crossing areas, or increasing the number of beds to detain immigrants through court hearings. Republicans structured their counterproposal around H.R. 2, legislation the House passed earlier this year that was originally introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX). Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Republicans' offering was not worthy of Democrats even coming to the table. He said the GOP proposal "is not consistent with American values, and it would not secure our border. It includes many of the worst proposals from H.R. 2, including a proposal to end relief for Ukrainians, Afghans, and others who have found refuge in the United States, who we should be aiding, not deporting." Republicans' plan required the Department of Homeland Security to resume border wall construction. Border Patrol retention would be addressed through pay incentives, and DHS would be required to collect DNA and fingerprints of more immigrants in custody. Immigrants would not be allowed to seek asylum if they failed to seek refuge in another country before coming to the United States. The asylum threshold for initial intake claims would be raised, and asylum-seekers would be required to make a claim at ports of entry, not by walking around the ports. Republicans' plan would also make it more difficult for denied asylum-seekers to fight deportation, and it would rein in the Biden administration’s reliance on parole to admit immigrants. Greg Chen, senior director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said Republicans' port of entry requirement was uninformed. Chen said he visited the Nogales port of entry in southeastern Arizona recently and learned that immigrants seeking asylum had been waiting at the port of entry to seek refuge for as long as four weeks, but they had not been admitted. “Literally at the turnstile of the port of entry. They’re waiting there for weeks,” Chen said during a call with reporters Tuesday morning. “The answer is not [to] keep them blocked as Trump had done and as the Lankford-Cotton proposal would seek to revive again. That's not the answer. Increase the capacity, as others have talked about before.” Changing and broadening legal pathways, such as employed-based and family-based, would alleviate the demand and backlog for those times of visas, Chen said. Republicans have also insisted that immigrants who illegally cross the border be placed in Mexico or Canada through court proceedings to avoid releasing any more than the 2 million people who have been let into the country since 2021. DHS would keep immigrant families seeking asylum in custody together while they face removal proceedings in court. The move, they hope, would address their claims that an unspecified number of adult immigrants pay to rent children from cartels knowing that they will get released into the country if they cross as a family unit as opposed to if they showed up alone at the border. However, a former chief of staff at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency tasked with detaining immigrants, said Republicans have failed to consider the logistical and financial implications that would lead to “hamstringing” the agency’s ability to tackle cartels that are “sort of mobilizing these large caravans.” “You then are going to put Immigration and Customs Enforcement in — specifically Homeland Security Investigations, HSI — in a place where they will not be able to work with our international partners in helping to disrupt some of these smuggling networks," said Jason Houser, former ICE chief of staff, in the call with media facilitated by the office of Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). "That is the type of the sort of sort of shortsidedness of this proposal." Meanwhile, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said during comments outside the chamber Tuesday that he was disappointed by Schumer’s knee-jerk reaction but urged lawmakers to take up discussions again. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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