After returning from an April recess, a bipartisan group of senators plan to revive immigration reform discussions ahead of the southern border crisis. Headed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), these efforts are the first Congress has seen in recent years to get an immigration reform bill through the House and Senate.
According to The Hill, Tillis and Durbin are actively pushing immigration reform talks to other senators, noting that these meetings would be the first, hopefully of many more, to pave a realistic path toward addressing these perennial immigration issues.
However, the complicated situation at the U.S.-Mexico border may distract attention away from Tillis and Durbin’s attempts at centering this conversation. If the border authority’s capacity to handle the influx of migrants continue to stagger, the pair of Senators will face even more difficulty winning the Republicans over.
Title 42 Expulsion May Hurt Immigration Reform Plans
Biden’s revocation of Title 42 was answered with praise from the Democratic side and criticism from Republicans. Title 42 has long been criticized as a Trump-era policy that actively prevented migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S., among other restrictionist legislation and ideology that further damaged an already broken immigration system.
While the policy was a public health order authorized by The Centers for Disease and Control in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, it has been used nearly 1.7 million times to quickly expel migrants at the border, including asylum-seekers.
Many democrats and human rights advocates put pressure on the Biden administration to revoke Title 42, resulting in the policy’s May 23 expulsion date. Conservatives, on the other hand, condemn the expulsion of Title 42 at this time, citing that the U.S. immigration agency is not yet prepared to process the increase in border crossings.
Tillis Calls for a Four Pillar Discussion
The immigration reform that the Biden administration has been promising will see its best chance at success through this bipartisan effort, the implementation for which is clearly still in its early stages. Though the specifics on their immigration reform plan are not clearly defined yet, Durbin is hopeful that these conversations will be a step in the right direction.
Sharing Durbin’s hopes, Tillis refines the topic of these future discussions to four pillars:
- Immigration Reform
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Border Security
- Asylum Reform
Looking ahead at the November election, an immigration reform deal is unlikely to pass seeing as how Republicans are already attacking Biden for the decisions he’s making at the Southern border. With the political dissension that emerged following Title 42’s expulsion as well, Tillis urges other senators to figure out a bipartisan consensus in order for their prospective immigration reform deal to have a chance at passing the House and Senate.
What Does This Mean for DACA Recipients?
As of July 16, 2021, the status of DACA recipients largely remains unchanged, which is why Tillis named DACA as one of the four urgent points of focus. Because a Texas judge’s ruling partially ended the DACA program on that date, first-time applicants cannot apply for its benefits while current or former recipients continue to rely on the program.
Even though the USCIS are under a court order that prevents them from processing first-time DACA applicants, there may be advantages to at least submitting an application. Consult with our experienced immigration attorney at the Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek to learn if applying for DACA is the best route for you.
As Tillis already said, the conversation surrounding immigration reform cannot be had without mentioning some of its most critical programs, including DACA. Progressive goals should be aimed at reducing DACA renewal backlogs and creating a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, for which there is currently none.