As Congress moves closer to a potential government shutdown, Republicans in the House are pushing to include in any spending deal a sweeping border security legislation that was passed in the chamber earlier this year.
Republicans in the chamber have been attempting to include the “Secure the Border Act” — H.R. 2 — in different versions of continuing resolutions to keep the government open past Sept. 30.
Over the weekend, Republicans on the House Rules Committee added a provision to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that, if passed, would prevent it from being considered by the Senate until the bill was signed into law by President Biden.
The bill was passed by the House in May, but has so far received little interest from Democrats. A Senate version was introduced this month by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
The bill includes significant border security measures, while also making deep changes to the asylum system as well as the use of parole to allow migrants to enter the U.S.
Significantly, it would restart construction of the wall at the southern border, with hundreds of miles being built — restarting a project that was ended by the Biden administration. It would also invest in technology at both the northern and southern borders.
Additional border security measures include a mandate for 22,000 minimum Border Patrol agents, but specifically ruling out those dedicated only to processing. It would also allow for additional retention bonuses for agents. It would also restrict funding for processing of illegal immigrants into the U.S., and for non-governmental organizations to provide services.
The bill would also restrict the use of the CBP One app, which has been expanded by the Biden administration to allow migrants to make appointments to be paroled into the U.S. H.R. 2 would reduce the usage of the app back to commercial purposes only.
Separately, it would also authorize an additional $110 million in grants to law enforcement agencies in border states to increase border security, and increase drone flights at the border.
It would also require the DHS Secretary to submit a report on whether Mexican drug cartels meet the criteria for being designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
When it comes to the asylum and immigration enforcement, the legislation is broad. It would overhaul asylum eligibility, including by tightening the “credible fear” standard by which migrants seeking asylum are initially judged and changing rules related to how unaccompanied children are dealt with at the border. It would also expand the type of crimes that makes someone ineligible for asylum.
It would also re-establish the Remain-in-Mexico policy, which was used by the Trump administration to keep migrants in Mexico outside of the U.S. until their hearing took place at a courtroom at the border.
Crucially, it would also drastically limit the ability of DHS to parole migrants into the interior, a response to what Republicans have said is an abuse of parole at the border — which is set by Congress to be used on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
It would expand penalties for visa overstayers, increasing penalties to between $500 and $1,000 and doubling it for repeat offenders.
The bill would also mandate employers use E-Verify, a web-based system to confirm that employers are legally allowed to work, although one version of a proposed continuing resolution specifically removed this language. Finally, the bill would also require the State Department to negotiate asylum agreements with certain countries in the region, regarding the return of migrants.
However, the White House has previously threatened to veto the legislation if it were to make it to President Biden’s desk.
“The bill would cut off nearly all access to humanitarian protections in ways that are inconsistent with our Nation’s values and international obligations. In addition, the bill would make processing less efficient by prohibiting the use of the CBP One mobile application to process noncitizens and restricting DHS’s parole authority, such that successful programs, like ‘Uniting for Ukraine,’ would be prohibited,” the White House said in a statement in May. “The bill would also reduce authorized funding for essential programs including the Shelter and Services Program that provides a critical source of funds for state and local governments and reduces pressure at the border.
“While we welcome Congress’ engagement on meaningful steps to address immigration and the challenges at the border, this bill would make things worse, not better. Because this bill does very little to actually increase border security while doing a great deal to trample on the Nation’s core values and international obligations, it should be rejected,” the statement said.
Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report.
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