On February 4, a group of Senators released the long-awaited text of an emergency supplemental funding bill that includes devastating, permanent restrictions on protections for asylum seekers. This legislation would render asylum protections nearly inaccessible and exacerbate humanitarian challenges that require meaningful and compassionate solutions.
The proposed anti-asylum legislation includes a number of troubling provisions that would place people fleeing persecution in harm’s way. For example, these proposed restrictions include:
- A new legal authority that – if certain conditions are met – would allow a presidential administration to expel arriving migrants before they even have an opportunity to make a case for protection. When this policy is in effect, it would go further to shut down asylum access than Title 42 – the immoral and unlawful pandemic-era policy that resulted in the arbitrary expulsion of millions of new arrivals and was linked to nearly ten thousand violent attacks on people seeking safety.
- Dramatic increases in detention and deportations, and the creation of a rapid new asylum process that severely limits access to protection, due process, and review before an immigration judge. The bill significantly heightens the standard for passing initial screenings to formally enter the asylum process, would result in many held in detention for the duration of their proceedings, and precludes access to counsel or the time to gather evidence to make a case for protection.
The proposed deal also includes vital funding for refugee resettlement services, as well as a path to permanent status for Afghans who fled the Taliban, needed reauthorization of services for arriving Ukrainians, and improved processing for refugees and certain immigrant visa applicants hoping to find safety or reunite with family.
These are vital and needed reforms, but the legislation as proposed seeks to trade them for policies that would have a devastating impact on so many seeking safety at the border. Gutting asylum – as this bill does – would harm the very populations that other provisions in the legislation purports to protect, such as Afghans arriving at the southern border. Asylum seekers must not be used as a political bargaining chip, and vulnerable populations must not be pitted against one another.
With a Senate vote expected imminently, now is a critical time to urge members of Congress to reject provisions that would irreparably harm those seeking safety and to instead focus on legislation that upholds humanitarian protections that expand and recognize our long legacy of welcome.
CONTACT YOUR TWO SENATORS AND ONE REPRESENTATIVE TODAY!
On the right hand side you can send an email to your Members of Congress.
Sample Script/Email: “My name is [insert name], and as your constituent from [City/Town] and a [person of faith/refugee/member of my community], I urge you to categorically reject the draconian asylum restrictions in the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2024, and to instead focus on needed supplemental funding and compassionate policy solutions – including some included within the bill – that would expand our capacity to welcome and establish humane and effective border processing. Specifically, I urge you to:
- Reject and oppose the harmful and permanent anti-asylum and anti-immigrant provisions in the proposed supplemental bill. The bill would codify a new legal authority that would allow – if certain conditions are met – the administration to end almost all access to asylum at the border. The bill further considers a dramatic expansion of detention, deportations, and rapid asylum processes that leave due process in tatters and eliminates the opportunity for most asylum seekers to make a case for protection before an immigration judge. These punitive policies would lead to tremendous human suffering and would not improve the situation at the border.
- Refuse to pit one vulnerable population against another. This legislation includes needed provisions that would offer permanent and temporary protection to certain populations in need. The bill includes significant funding for refugee accounts like the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and the Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) accounts. It provides a pathway to permanence for evacuated Afghans and reauthorization of benefits for Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression. But these needed provisions are significantly outweighed by the permanent harm this legislation would cause to so many seeking protection at the border.
Congress must continue to work together on legislation that both preserves asylum and promotes needed investments and policy reforms that expand access to humanitarian protections. To that end, I urge you to:
- Support investment in the long-term integration and economic success of newcomers
- Robustly fund the Refugee and Entrant Assistance Account (REA), which supports the Office of Refugee Resettlement by funding core services such as job training, English language classes, services for unaccompanied children, and refugee school impact grants.
- Robustly fund the Migration and Refugee Assistance Account (MRA), which protects families fleeing life-threatening situations and funds durable solutions to protect refugees, including resettlement through USRAP.
- Uphold our promises to arriving Ukrainian humanitarian parolees by extending access to certain Office of Refugee Resettlement and mainstream benefits to those who arrived after September 30th and have been suddenly cut off.
- Support Afghans fleeing the Taliban by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act and extending access to benefits for arriving Afghan parolees who have also been cut off in Fiscal Year 2024.
- For full funding recommendations, see: https://bit.ly/RCUSAFY24FundingNeeds
- Support solutions that would meaningfully address challenges at the border.
- Improve and robustly fund the Shelter and Services Program (SSP), which supports recently-arrived asylum seekers and the communities working to welcome them.
- Support and expand the Case Management Pilot Program, which provides asylum seekers around the country with sustained, trauma-informed, community-based case management, including mental health care and legal orientation programming.
- Support legislation to remove barriers to work authorization. The House Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act (H.R. 1325) reduces the 180 day wait for eligibility to 30 days and makes it easier to renew and retain employment authorization documents (EADs).
I urge you to reject attempts to dismantle the right to seek safety in the U.S. and instead support policies and investments that promote the flourishing of newcomers and the communities that welcome them. Thank you.”
AMPLIFY ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Share this message with national leaders on social media! See below for sample social media posts, and see here for sample graphics.
- .@legislator Pitting one vulnerable population against another is not the answer to the challenges we face. I urge you to uphold the right to asylum and support investments and reforms that expand our capacity to welcome.
- .@legislator it’s a fact: Refugees make our communities strong. It is critical for Congress to protect asylum and invest in welcoming programs that allow newcomers to integrate and thrive. #RefugeesWelcome
Analysis of Asylum Provisions
- Evacuate Our Allies: Eviscerating Asylum Puts Afghans in Further Jeopardy
- Interfaith Immigration Coalition letter & statement
- Welcome with Dignity Statement Denouncing the Emergency Supplemental
- Human Rights First Analysis of the Supplemental’s Asylum Provisions
- National Immigrant Justice Center: Senate Supplemental Funding Bill is an Affront to Refugee Protection
- AILA Policy Brief: Analysis of the Border and Immigration Provisions of the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act”
- CWS Statement: Border Bill Would Pit the Persecuted Against the Persecuted – Benefiting Some, at the Expense of Moral Leadership
- AILA Policy Brief: The Credible Fear Standard
- Interfaith Immigration Letter Opposing Asylum Restrictions
- Human Rights First: Preserve Judicial Review of Asylum Decisions
- Manifesting Fear at the Border: Lessons from Title 42 Expulsions
- RCUSA Fiscal Year 2024 Refugee Funding Priorities
- RCUSA Post CR Appropriations Talking Points
- Housing Funding Priorities for FY 2024
- FY 2024 RCUSA Appropriations Oversight Bill & Report Language Requests
- Fiscal Year 2024 Defund Hate Funding Priorities
- Toolkit: Demystifying Federal Funding & Appropriations Advocacy for Refugees and Newcomers