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Immigrants' Rights Groups Urge 118th Congress to Vote No on Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Members Should Vote No on the “Border Safety and Security Act” and Anti-immigrant Bills Expected to be Introduced in Coming Months

The Honorable Members of the 118th Congress 
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, D.C. 

January 12, 2023

Dear Honorable Members of the 118th Congress:

With the new year comes new opportunities for the U.S. government to establish a humane and orderly immigration policy that respects human rights. The newly elected majority in the House of Representatives, however, is moving in the opposite direction, rolling out an intentionally divisive legislative agenda that panders to hate and anti-immigrant animus rather than actual policy solutions. Among the first bills expected to go to the House floor is the “Border Safety and Security Act,” which would, as a practical matter, shut our border to all asylum seekers, no matter how strong their cases might be. 

The undersigned organizations urge Members of the House of Representatives to vote no on the “Border Safety and Security Act” and on the full slate of anti-immigrant bills we expect to see introduced in coming months.

The “Border Safety and Security Act” would require a wholly unserious and harmful metric to be met before any asylum claim could be entertained, inevitably ending access to asylum at all U.S. borders, even for children. Specifically, the bill would seal off all borders and ports of entry to asylum seekers if Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents cannot detain or return to Mexico all arriving asylum seekers and migrants. This condition is operationally impossible and a recipe for a human rights catastrophe. Moreover, the bill would give DHS broad discretion to ban all asylum access even if this inhumane and impossible condition were somehow achieved.

This bill represents an effort by the United States to evade its international asylum obligations, which impacts the global perception of the United States as a nation that protects those seeking refuge and its overall global leadership.

Requiring DHS to expel arriving migrants without any individualized screening for asylum or trafficking flouts long-standing international commitments to protect people fleeing political, religious, ethnic, racial, and other kinds of heinous persecution. These commitments are embodied in decades of bipartisan lawmaking that codifies the right to non-discriminatory access to asylum at the United States’ borders. The bill would put the United States in clear violation of its obligations under the Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture, and would effectively repeal the asylum provisions of the Refugee Act of 1980, the provisions relating to unaccompanied children in the Trafficking and Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, and DHS’s statutory parole authority.

This bill does not reflect popular sentiment, which overwhelmingly supports asylum access and opposes walling off the United States from those fleeing tyranny and violence. It would return refugees of all nationalities and ages, including children, directly to harm and death. It would require development of an even more massive infrastructure of incarceration for asylum seekers and revival of the deadly Remain-in-Mexico program. Though all those in need of refuge would be harmed, the bill would impose the greatest costs on Black, Brown and Indigenous asylum seekers, as is already the case at the border where Black migrants and asylum seekers endure disparate rates of abuse, detention, and violence

This proposed legislation also gives the DHS Secretary the discretion to suspend all asylum access until “operational control” of the border is achieved, as defined in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 to mean “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by … [migrants], narcotics, and other contraband.” Experts have dismissed this concept as “tremendously unrealistic.” It is also incompatible with liberal democracy; as the Migration Policy Institute has explained, “the only nations that have come close to such [absolute border] control were totalitarian, with leaders who had no qualms about imposing border control with shoot-to-kill orders.” Given the inhumanity and impracticability of this threshold condition, the bill’s purportedly temporary powers would in reality be permanent. Further, the bill’s “operational control” framework is at odds with the Border Patrol’s own strategy, which defines “operational control” not as a sealed border but as a measure of the ability to limit unauthorized crossings and “maintain situational awareness.”

The “Border Safety and Security Act” has nothing to do with safety or any kind of effort to address the real and complicated challenges posed by the worldwide increase in migration, and everything to do with an alarming uptick in hateful rhetoric and violence targeting asylum seekers and immigrants in the United States. We expect other bills will be sent to the House floor in coming weeks and months that similarly traffic in division, fear and hate rather than solutions, including bills like the anticipated NICS Alert Act that criminalize and target immigrants for harsh, punitive treatment.

We urge Members of Congress to reject the politics of fear and hate and vote no on the “Border Safety and Security Act” and all subsequent anti-immigrant legislative vehicles.

Sincerely,

National organizations:

#WelcomeWithDignity

Adorers of the Blood of Christ, US Region

African Communities Together

African Human Rights Coalition

Alianza Americas

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc.

America’s Voice

American Federation of Teachers

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

American Immigration Council

American Immigration Lawyers Association

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Americans for Immigrant Justice

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence

ASISTA Immigration Assistance

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Bethany Christian Services

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Bridges Faith Initiative

Caminar Latino - Latinos United for Peace and Equity

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Victims of Torture

Church World Service

Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center

Coalition on Human Needs

Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP)

Community Change Action

Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Congregation of St. Joseph

Detention Watch Network

Dominican Sisters of Peace

Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network)

Faith in Public Life

FIRM Action

First Focus Campaign for Children

Forward Latino

Franciscan Action Network

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart

Freedom Network USA

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Futures Without Violence

Government Accountability Project

Grannies Respond / Abuelas Responden

Haitian Bridge Alliance

HIAS

Hispanic Federation

Holy Union Sisters US Province

Human Impact Partners (HIP)

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch

Ignatian Solidarity Network

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Immigration Equality Action Fund

Immigration Hub

Immigration Law and Justice Network

Indivisible

Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center

International Mayan League

International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)

Just Detention International

Justice Action Center

Justice in Motion

Latin American Working Group (LAWG)

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Loretto Community Latin America/Caribbean Committee

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Medical Mission Sisters - Justice Office

Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

MomsRising/MamásConPoder

MoveOn

MPower Change Action Fund

Muslim Advocates

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Council of Jewish Women

National Education Association

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project

National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Partnership for New Americans

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment

Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Oxfam America

Paxchristi

Physicians for Human Rights

Presentation Sisters USA Unit

Quixote Center

Rainbow Railroad

Refugee Congress

Religious of Jesus and Mary - USA/Haiti Province

Save the Children

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Sisters of Bon Secours, USA

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team

Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur USA

Sisters of Notre Dame of the United States

Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Sisters of the Divine Savior, North American Province

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, U.S.-Ontario Province

Society of Helpers

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Southern Border Communities Coalition

Sunita Jain Anti-Trafficking Initiative

T’ruah

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)

U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph

UNIFIED U.S. Deported Veterans Resource Center

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

ValorUS

Vera Institute of Justice

Voice for Refuge Action Fund

Washington Office on Latin America

We Are All America

Welcoming America

Witness at the Border

Women’s Refugee Commission

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

 

Regional / state / local organizations:

A New Genesis Community

Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Ministry with Hospital Sisters of St. Francis

The Advocates for Human Rights

Alianza Sacramento

Americans for Immigrant Justice

Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance

The Border Network for Human Rights

California Immigrant Policy Center

California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition

Center for Justice & Reconciliation, Point Loma Nazarene University

Central American Resource Center - CARECEN-LA

Central American Resource Center of Northern California - CARECEN SF

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos: United Workers Center

Church Women United in New York State

Cleveland Jobs with Justice

Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies, Georgia

Community Asylum Seekers Project

Comunidad de Apoyo San Diego

CSA San Diego County Fair Housing

Dominican Sister of Adrian, MI

Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose

Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa

Dominicans Sisters of Mission San Jose

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, Washington DC

Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance

Envision Freedom Fund

Espacio Migrante

Faithful Friends /Amigos Fieles

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project

Florida Immigrant Coalition

GALEO Impact Fund

The Green Valley / Sahuarita Samaritans

Her Justice, Inc.

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Humane Borders, Inc.

ICOM - Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (MN)

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Immigrant ARC

Immigrant Defenders Law Center

Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Immigrant Welcoming Working Group, Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis

Immigration Center for Women and Children

Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice

Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Interfaith Welcome Coalition - San Antonio

Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice

JAMAAT - Jews and Muslims and Allies Acting Together

Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice of Western Massachusetts

Jewish Family Service of San Diego

JPIC Committee, Sisters of IHM (Scranton, PA)

Justice for Our Neighbors El Paso

Justice for Our Neighbors Michigan

Justice For Our Neighbors North Central Texas

Keep Tucson Together & The Justice For All Initiative Campaign

La Conexion

Ladysmith Servite Sisters

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center

Legal Aid Justice Center

Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition

Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention

Make the Road Connecticut

Make the Road Nevada

Make the Road New York

Make the Road New Jersey

Make the Road Pennsylvania

Mariposa Legal, Program of COMMON Foundation

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Minnesota Interfaith Coalition on Immigration

NC Justice Center

Nebraska Appleseed

New York Immigration Coalition

NorCal Resist

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

NW Ohio Immigrant Rights Network

Oasis Legal Services

OC Rapid Response Network

Orange County Equality Coalition

Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees

Pangea Legal Services

Presentation Sisters San Francisco, CA

Proctor Family

Project Hope

RAICES

Reunite Migrant Families

Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network

Rural Organizing Project

San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

Sanctuary and Resistance to Injustice

School Sisters of Notre Dame-Atlantic-Midwest Province

School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province

Serra Club, City of Orange

Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill

Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill Philadelphia, PA

Sisters of St, Joseph of Carondelet Albany Province

Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa

Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, LA

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, KS

Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange

Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester

Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield

Sisters of St. Joseph, Watertown, NY

Sisters of the Humility of Mary

Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary

Sisters, Servants of IHM (Scranton, PA)

South Bay People Power

Southern California Immigration Project

Springfield Dominican Justice, Peace, & Integrity of Creation Committee

St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church

Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition

Texas Civil Rights Project

Tucson Samaritans

Universidad Popular

Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland

WAVE Women for American Values and Ethics

Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration

Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center

 

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