Tammy Baldwin

05/22/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/22/2024 19:30

WATCH: Senator Baldwin Calls on Senate to Pass Bipartisan Border and Immigration Compromise

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin delivered remarks on the Senate floor calling for the Senate to pass bipartisan compromise legislation to increase border security, curb the flow of fentanyl from coming into the United States, and reform parts of the immigration system.

The Border Act of 2024 includes funding for new security and screening technology at the southwest border, hiring more Border Patrol agents, and increasing resources for Customs and Border Protection officers. Included in the legislation are efforts to:

Combat the Fentanyl Crisis

  • $2 Billion for High-Tech Detection Equipment: The legislation includes $2 billion to acquire and deploy innovative non-intrusive inspection equipment on the southwest and northern borders as well as our nation's seaports to increase detection and seizure of narcotics, including fentanyl, preventing entry into the U.S.
  • $203 Million to Dismantle Cartels: Invests $203 million in Homeland Security Investigations to enhance investigative and enforcement capabilities to combat fentanyl and increase transnational criminal investigative units.

Ramp Up Border Security

  • 2,400 CBP Agents: Hire over 2,400 additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, increasing capacity to seize illicit items, such as fentanyl.
  • 375 Border Patrol: Hire 375 additional Border Patrol agents and 205 Border Patrol processing coordinators and mission support staff.
  • $260 Million for Border Security Technology: $260M for additional border security technology with most of those funds going to autonomous capabilities and $74M for additional air assets.
  • Empowering President to Close Between Ports of Entry: Ports will remain open, however, this bill gives the President a new emergency authority to limit asylum requests when the system is at capacity and cannot fairly process asylum requests.
    • This provision does not totally shut down asylum but would suspend asylum applications between ports of entry. People who are encountered will still be screened for humanitarian protections. To ensure this power is not abused, no matter how high encounters are, the authority can never be in effect for more than 180 days once the bill is fully implemented after 3 years.

Fix the Immigration System

  • Speeding Up Asylum Process: The bill would modestly raise the initial credible fear screening standard that asylum seekers must meet to be eligible for asylum up one notch to "reasonable possibility" of persecution. This will ensure that those who are actually eligible for asylum are identified early and receive decisions quickly.
    • USCIS Staff: Provides funding to hire over 4,000 Asylum Officers and 3,000 support personnel, meeting the new operational requirements of 3,000 Credible Fear Interviews per day and 900 Asylum Merits Interviews per day.
  • Work Authorization: This legislation would permit asylum seekers to receive work authorization much sooner and would also authorize an additional 250,000 new family and work visas over the next five fiscal years that are required to be issued. Of the 50,000 authorized each year, 32,000 would be reserved for the family-based immigration system, helping families reunite faster. The remaining 18,000 would be applied toward the employment-based backlog. The bill invests in hiring 250 new Immigration Services Officers and 200 support personnel dedicated to improving immediate throughput on work authorizations for eligible non-citizens.
  • Right to Counsel: The bill establishes a new right to counsel for asylum seekers in expedited removal and first-time-ever mandatory government-funded counsel for unaccompanied minors.

Click here for a full video of Senator Baldwin's remarks.

Text of the legislation can be found here.


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