Republican lawmakers critique new immigration policies under Biden
Interviews for this story took place on In the Moment with Lori Walsh
Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy, expired May 11. The policy allowed border authorities to quickly turn away migrants with the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Title 8, an older policy, has since taken its place. While this policy allows more immigrants to seek asylum in the U.S., it also comes with harsher punishments for those who are deported, like a ban on entering the country for five years and possible jail time.
Some Republican legislators see this change in policy as an insufficient solution to immigration struggles.
U.S. Senator John Thune said the Biden Administration is not giving border law enforcement enough support to handle the influx of arrivals amid the change.
“They aren’t deploying the types of resources that the border patrol folks tell us they need," he said. "When I’ve been down there a few times, they constantly say, one, allow us to enforce the law, and two, give us the three things we need, which is manpower, technology and infrastructure.”
Others think the quick change will mean many will not know about the updated policy. U.S. Senator Mike Rounds said many migrants who are on their way here now will not be granted asylum under the new rules because they did not apply online.
"If you were discussing this policy and sharing it with people before they are leaving their own homeland, then you might very well have some success in slowing down these folks from trying to get to the United States, and they actually would have a better chance of receiving asylum," he said.
Legislators have pointed out the flaws they see in processing legal immigrants, as well. U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson said court dates for asylum seekers have been backlogged for years.
“It should not take a family $50,000 to $100,000 and 7 to 9 years to get through the legal process in this country," he said. "If we just did a better job of processing those claims, we could really, really shorten the lines.”
Adjudicatory hearings for legal immigrants are booked for the next 10 years in some places.
Some suggestions for immigration policy include making better agreements with Mexico, getting work visas for asylum seekers and needing more processing facilities in Latin American countries.
Republican legislators have repeatedly emphasized the U.S.’s role as a country of laws, and Johnson said members of Congress should continue to address immigration and uphold these laws.
"Let’s keep the pressure on Congress, let’s keep the pressure on me, to do our jobs, let’s not just accept rule breaking," he said.
Homeland Security says the border has seen almost a 50 percent drop in migrant crossings since Title 42 expired, opposing what many legislators predicted. Border authorities say they are still staying alert for surges of arrivals in the coming days.