Bill to Limit Immigrant Asylum Protections Passes Senate Committee

Immigrants walking in a line

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham’s controversial bill to address the border crisis and limit immigrant asylum protections at the U.S. southern border passed a divided Senate committee. In a 12-10 party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Secure and Protect Act of 2019, which will make it harder for thousands of Central American immigrants to apply for and receive asylum for entry into the United States at the southern border.

USA Today reports,

“Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who opposes the bill, called the vote “a dark day in the history of this committee” that would lead to “an exacerbation of partisan hostilities.”

Graham’s bill now heads to the full Senate. The goal of the proposed legislation is to close gaps in current laws that have led to an increasing number of immigrants traveling to the border. Key points of the bill include:

  • Asylum applications from residents of the Northern Triangle and contiguous countries would be filed at refugee processing centers – not in the United States. These centers would be established in the Northern Triangle and Mexico.
  • Modify U.S. law to allow families to be held together up to 100 days in the United States while making their asylum claims – up from the current 20 day limit.
  • 500 new immigration judges to reduce the backlog of cases.
  • Unaccompanied minors (UAC) from Central America would be treated the same as minors from Canada and Mexico. This allows the United States to return all UAC to their country of origin after screening.

The bill is not expected to pass the GOP-controlled Senate because it needs the support of Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster. According to Rollcall,

“The bill, in broad strokes, would strip several protections for migrant children and generally make it much more difficult to obtain asylum in the United States. It also would give more power to the Department of Homeland Security to make decisions on migrants without going through judicial review.’

A recent report from DHS says an average of 4,600 people a day crossed the southern border illegally in May, compared to 700 per day two years earlier. Family separations continue to be an issue as the backlog grows into the hundreds of thousands.

The Immigration Simplified attorneys work with you to evaluate your asylum status and guide you in your journey to getting a Green Card. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office or call us at (312) 883-9944.

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