Washington, D.C. – As Title 42 expires, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) joined Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), on legislation to respond to the immediate needs on our southern border by significantly increasing resources for frontline border personnel. The proposal provides immediate assistance to border officials and authorities to help secure the border and efficiently process asylum seekers. The bill also provides critical support to the communities across America that receive asylum seekers; cracks down on smugglers, cartels, and traffickers by increasing penalties; and funds new resources for inspections at ports of entry to stop the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. The legislation follows a letter that both Senators and Representative Susie Lee sent to President Biden last week calling on the President to increase resources at our southern border.
“Our legislation will provide Border Patrol and other frontline personnel the resources they need to bring order to our southern border while cracking down on human smuggling and trafficking,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I will keep working to strengthen border security and ensure swift and humane asylum processing.”
“We must ensure that our frontline border security personnel have the capacity and resources necessary to secure our border and ensure there’s an orderly and humane process,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m helping introduce legislation to significantly increase resources to secure our border while we continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Along with Senators Cortez Masto, Rosen, Durbin, and Peters, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Angus King (I-Maine).
The Border Management, Security, and Assistance Act of 2023 includes the following key elements:
- Strengthens Border Security: This legislation would provide funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to increase capacity, personnel, and technology to strengthen security at the southern border. It would provide new resources for innovative technology and smarter capabilities that improve situational awareness between ports of entry, and significant investments to increase staff and improve technologies at ports of entry, including tools to prevent drug trafficking and other criminal activity. It would create a Transportation Coordinator to facilitate coordination between the federal government, and state and local governments.
- Consequences for Unlawful Entry: This legislation would provide resources to deter unlawful migration by enforcing consequences for unauthorized border crossings. The legislation would ensure efficient processing and swift removal of people whose applications are denied and are otherwise prohibited from remaining in the country, including by adding resources for immigration officers and judges to quickly screen and deny ineligible cases. It would also enhance penalties for human smuggling, drug trafficking, and illegal surveillance of border security personnel, and add resources for U.S. Attorneys for increased law enforcement activities related to southwest border enforcement.
- Enhances Lawful Processes: This proposal would build upon the initial success of the Biden Administration’s Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela Parole program, which reduced apprehensions of nationals from those four countries by 97 percent, by providing resources for infrastructure to process migrants and asylum seekers in Latin America, and streamlining connections to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for groups experiencing persecution in the region. It would also increase resources for U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) to help the agency to ensure efficient processing of asylum claims and applications for employment authorization. Finally, it would improve the employment authorization process for individuals who comply with legal requirements.
- Supports American Communities: This proposal would provide local communities and nongovernmental organizations that are receiving asylum seekers—both at the border and in the interior of the United States—with the resources that they need and ensure that federal agencies are coordinating with such communities and organizations.
- Supports Frontline Personnel: This bill would provide additional support to frontline officials through hiring additional CBP officers, processing coordinators, and contracting staff to enable law enforcement personnel to carry out critical law enforcement duties. In recognition that our frontline personnel are critical to the nation’s security, the bill also provides critical funding to support employee retention, recruitment, and wellness efforts.
Bill text is available here.
Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen have worked to pass meaningful immigration reform that balances critical border security measures with a path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers. Cortez Masto has called on the administration to take action to protect TPS holders and other immigrants, as well as leading commonsense legislation to fix our broken immigration system and implement critical border security measures.