As Congress begins to prepare for its President’s Day recess, immigration remains at the forefront of ongoing debate. Last week, Congress held multiple hearings and proposed legislation that would harm vulnerable migrants, asylum-seekers, and families. The action has only intensified in Congress this week.
DHS Funding Debates
The Senate has now taken votes on the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill (H.R. 240) three times. Senate Democrats have opposed the measure each time due to the inclusion of harmful amendments that block implementation of the President’s recent actions on immigration and renew the fear of deportation and family separation for millions of people. With current funding for DHS expiring February 27th, we expect Congress to try a variety of approaches to keep DHS operating.
In addition to the debates surrounding DHS funding, both chambers of Congress have now held hearings on immigration, with more to come. Last week we heard from the House and Senate on topics such as immigration enforcement, E-Verify, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents programs. These hearings represented a step in the opposite direction of protection and support for migrant populations. In the face of potential legislation that would threaten access to due process, family unity, and the human dignity of migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, we must continue to send the message to Congress that the faith community stands for welcome.
Legislation Targeting Vulnerable Migrants and Refugees
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security will hold another hearing this week entitled, “Interior Immigration Enforcement Legislation.” Representatives on the committee will consider three specific pieces of legislation including:
- The Strength and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act (H.R. 2278)
- The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 5137)
- The Protection of Children Act (H.R. 5143)
These bills would strip protections for migrant children traveling alone, harm migrants and the communities that welcome them, and put in place unnecessary barriers for vulnerable people seeking asylum. All of these bills contain harsh provisions aimed at children traveling alone, forcing them through traumatic and adversarial legal processes to gain refuge and safety in the United States.
Rather than stripping protections and due process rights for vulnerable migrants, we believe Congress should instead enact legislation that keeps families together, protects children, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable persons, and upholds the American value of justice for all.
We invite you to visit LIRS’s Action Center to join us in telling Members of Congress that migrants and refugees should be welcomed not endangered.
Photo Credit: Derek Jensen (Tysto)