‘Border Emergency Authority’ for Southern Border
At the center of the bipartisan immigration deal is a new three-year authority that allows officials to shut down entries into the U.S. at the southern border. This authority comes into play when there is a significant number of encounters, and allows for the expulsion of migrants without processing, with the exception of unaccompanied children. The president can suspend the authority for up to 45 days, and by the third calendar year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary is limited to using it for half the year.
Work Permits for Migrants in the Interior
The bill expedites two-year work permits for migrants who are released into the U.S. interior, allowing them to work immediately. This provision addresses the demand made by Democratic mayors in cities like New York and Chicago, where there has been a significant influx of migrants. However, these permits can be revoked if the migrant is denied asylum. The bill also includes requirements to provide migrants with information about their rights and government-funded legal counsel for children.
Tightened Asylum Rules
The bill tightens the language for the initial “credible fear” screening faced by migrants claiming asylum as they are being removed via expedited removal. Migrants will now be expected to prove a “reasonable possibility” of persecution if returned to their home country, instead of a “significant possibility.” The bill also creates a new eligibility bar called “internal relocation,” which denies asylum if a migrant could have sought safety in their home country. The process for granting asylum will be expedited, reducing it from years to months.
Increased Border Funding and Staffing
The bill includes billions in funding for additional staff and infrastructure at the border, including 1,500 new personnel, over 4,300 new asylum officers, 1,200 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel, and 100 new immigration judge teams. It also allocates funds for non-governmental organizations and cities to settle migrants and reinforces the border wall. Additionally, the bill provides funding for inspection machines to detect fentanyl and implements new laws to prevent its trafficking into the U.S.
Expanded Legal Immigration Pathways
Separate from the border provisions, the bill offers work permits and temporary visas for 250,000 “documented dreamers” – children of immigrants on temporary work visas who have become adults. It also raises the cap on the number of green cards by 50,000 a year, with the majority being family-based. Furthermore, the bill establishes an expedited pathway for Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. to obtain green cards.
Opposition and Contributing Reporters
Despite bipartisan support, the immigration deal faces significant opposition from Republicans and other conservatives who argue it does not effectively address the border crisis. Some liberal Democrats also have objections, claiming the bill will harm migrants seeking asylum.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Aishah Hasnie contributed to this report.