AILA Quicktake #257: Senate Introduces Its Spending Bill

Greg Chen, Director of AILA's Government Relations, discusses the spending bill introduced by the Senate late Monday night. The bill includes many concerning provisions regarding DACA, TPS, and asylum policy.

Video Transcript

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Last night the Senate released its spending bill that is supposed to incorporate the proposal
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President Trump outlined in his speech on January 19th and serve as the compromise package
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enabling the federal government to reopen. Unfortunately, and yet unsurprisingly,
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the bill fails to deliver upon Trump’s promise and is not even a compromise. Even worse
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it includes hard-line restrictionist measures that make it absolutely unacceptable.
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On Saturday, the President said he would extend protections for DACA recipients for 3 years
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and called for an introduction of the Bridge Act. But this bill is not the Bridge Act.
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This Senate bill only protects people who currently have DACA and excludes those whose
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protection expired and haven’t been able to renew DACA. It also includes additional
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restrictions that will exclude people who currently have DACA.
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The president also promised to extend TPS for people previously granted that protection.
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Instead only people from four countries will have TPS extended.
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All African nations and several other nations are excluded from that extension.
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Even more troubling, the bill would re-write the law to functionally end the TPS as a program
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in the way we know it by requiring that any future TPS applicant be lawfully present in
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the U.S. Going forward TPS would exclude people who are undocumented, and they comprise a
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huge proportion of TPS recipients.
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The President claimed to be concerned about
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children and families seeking asylum from Central America, but this bill will bring
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to an end asylum for all minors from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala arriving at the
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U.S. border. This historic change in asylum law would categorically block tens of thousands
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of children from ever applying for asylum. The only path the bill provides for these
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Central American children is a sham program limited to 15,000 children each year which
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a fraction of those in need, and it requires they apply for relief outside of the U.S.
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at designated centers, and requires they have a parent or guardian already in the U.S.
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That program won’t even be operational for about 240 days during which time these children
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will have absolutely no way to seek asylum. The bill also makes important changes to asylum
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law that will make it harder for asylum seekers to win relief. For example, it adds to the
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definition of a “frivolous” asylum claim an applicant who seeks asylum who files the
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application while intending to seek employment. Just about everyone seeking asylum intends
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to work here and asylum law has never excluded such individuals.
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The bill adds money to hire more immigration judges, but it doesn’t include the necessary
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measures to prevent the administration’s interference with the immigration court that
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have delayed court proceedings and added to the 800,000-case backlog.
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For these reasons, this bill is a non-starter and AILA will be urging Congress to reject
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the bill when it comes up for a vote later this week. We are calling upon AILA members
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to contact their members of Congress as soon as possible and urge a no vote.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19012239.