The United States is facing an uptick and change in the border flows of people seeking a better life, and instead of addressing it with comprehensive and long-term solutions, there’s yet another series of proposals meant to “harden” policies and “close” the borders.
The Republican party has taken an even more extreme than usual anti-immigrant stance, as its presidential standard bearer Donald Trump insists that immigrants “poison the blood” of the country. Democrats are worried about the electoral impact of the issue.
The panelists at the Ethnic Media press briefing delved into the current proposals, the political consequences of another anti-immigrant cycle, the local response to the arrival of high numbers of asylum seekers, and some of the long-term problems with the very politicized immigration system.
Angela Kelley, Chief Advisor, Policy and Partnerships for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) said there has been a bipartisan conversation happening in the Senate to move a spending bill forward that would have provided aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. However, it has morphed into a policy discussion around a couple of key issues related to the border.
In the current political landscape, the spotlight has shifted away from immigration policy, with a newfound emphasis on securing funds, particularly for Ukraine—an imperative shared by this administration and certain voices on Capitol Hill.
“Having been engaged in this field for an extended period, it’s noteworthy that these Senate and House negotiations distinguish themselves. Unlike past discussions revolving around immigration, the primary focus now centers on allocating financial resources to Ukraine, acknowledging it as a vital foreign policy priority,” Kelley mentioned. “The intention is clear: to equip Ukraine with the necessary means to effectively counter Putin’s ambitions, recognizing the potential ripple effects beyond its borders.”
Amidst the intricacies of Senate negotiations, there has been a long-awaited framework, previously deemed dead, experiencing a surprising resurgence. Despite declarations from the Speaker of the House signaling the demise of negotiations, a contrasting stance emerges on the Senate side, notably from McConnell, the leader of Senate Republicans. This dynamic shift underscores the evolving nature of political decisions, with initial statements giving way to renewed commitment to forward progress.
Anticipating the unfolding scenario, Kelley said it is expected that a framework will emerge, driven by the compelling push to secure funding for Ukraine. The intensity of this push, combined with advanced decision-making in the negotiations, suggests that progress is imminent. The specific contours of the framework remain uncertain, but several key points have been discussed. One critical aspect involves the parole authority, a tool currently employed by the Biden administration for humanitarian reasons, particularly with various groups seeking entry.
Parole Authority, reminiscent of DACA, allows individuals to enter without receiving green cards, instead obtaining work authorization while not being a priority for removal unless engaging in criminal activities. The ongoing debate surrounding this authority reflects the differing perspectives between Republicans, eager to limit Biden’s use, and the administration, determined to preserve it as a legal pathway.
Another facet under negotiation is the implementation of triggers—a mechanism to potentially shut down the border for those seeking asylum. The deliberations aim to establish criteria, such as a specific number of encounters at the southern border within a designated time frame, leading to a halt in admissions. This trigger mechanism draws parallels to Title 42 measures and showcases the nuanced discussions surrounding border control.
As this intricate political landscape continues to evolve, the delicate balance between foreign policy priorities, funding allocations, and immigration strategies remains at the forefront of negotiations. The unfolding framework will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of key policies in the days to come.
Lupita Martinez, representing the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said that in their region, the customary influx of migrants from various events, including families and unaccompanied minors, is now facing disruption due to shifting political dynamics, notably observed in states like Texas and Florida. This has led to a notable increase in the number of individuals arriving on buses and planes.
“As we anticipated the potential lift of Title 42, the uncertainty surrounding the resulting influx prompted collaboration with partner organizations in Los Angeles. The LA Welcomes Collective emerged from this collaboration, involving organizations such as Got SN, M Death, Esperanza, the Archdiocese of LA, Clue, Asian Bridge Alliance, Yellow, CLUE, and NICE, among others,” Martinez said.
Since the first bus arrival in June from Texas, they have facilitated the arrival of 39 buses, necessitating close collaboration with the city of Los Angeles and the county. The goal is to execute a well-coordinated and intentional operation to receive new arrivals with dignity and care, she said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed distressing experiences during these journeys, ranging from individuals unable to disembark after long rides to children exhausted from the trip. To address these challenges, we ensure on-site medical attention, and translation services, and take them to a welcome center for comprehensive support,” Martinez added.
Given that LA is not the final destination for the majority of these individuals, they assist them in onward travel to cities like San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. For those staying in LA, the group provides case management, connecting them with available benefits, enrolling children in school, and addressing any trauma resulting from their experiences. Funding for these efforts comes from a variety of sources, including internal fundraising within the LA Welcomes Collective and support from partner organizations providing resources, whether financial or material, to aid in their mission.
“Our goal is to remain adaptable to the evolving situation while ensuring that we can provide support and welcome those in need without turning anyone away,” she said.