Climate and Health Care Bill Could Contain Immigration “Poison Pills”
Democrats are preparing for a series of difficult votes on controversial immigration amendments Republicans plan to offer as the climate, health care, and inflation bill being moved through the budget reconciliation process moves to the next step.
Budget reconciliation can sometimes be used to pass a budget, along with related policy changes, with only a 50-vote majority in the Senate. One of the procedural steps required to use the reconciliation process is a “vote-a-rama,” during which Senators can offer a virtually unlimited number of amendments to the bill.
With the vote-a-rama scheduled for Saturday, Republican senators intend to force vulnerable, moderate Democrats to take votes on divisive immigration topics, such as attempting to codify Title 42 or restart former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Some Democrats fear that if Republicans can force votes on these “poison pill” amendments — particularly on immigration — it might split crucial Democratic votes, potentially putting the entire bill in danger. Democratic Senators facing tough reelection campaigns might feel pressure to vote for the amendments to keep their seats. Other Senators who are strong immigration advocates, on the other hand, may refuse to vote for the overall bill if the anti-immigration amendments are passed.
To read more about the reconciliation process and immigration provisions it may contain, read our full article.
White House Inaction on Remain in Mexico Frustrates Immigration Groups
The Biden administration is divided over whether and how quickly to end a Trump-era policy that forces asylum seekers to wait in camps in Mexico for their U.S. immigration cases, according to new reports.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that the Biden administration can end the Remain in Mexico program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), immigration advocates have been frustrated by the Biden administration’s lack of action or preparation to terminate or wind down the program.
However, according to sources who spoke with The Wall Street Journal, members of the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) now appear divided on whether they should completely end the program. The NSC officials worry that ending the program could lead to more people attempting to cross the border, upend negotiations with the Mexican government on immigration, and prompt even more lawsuits from Republican-led states.
However, top immigration officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) disagree, and almost unanimously want the program to end because it is too costly and time-consuming.
The disagreement over MPP represents the latest fissure in a simmering divide between the Biden administration and immigration organizations, who helped shape President Biden’s immigration platform during the campaign, but who now say he has failed to deliver on his promises.
One of President Joe Biden’s campaign promises was to end MPP, and his administration tried to cancel the program in early 2021. However, the states of Texas and Missouri sued to keep Remain in Mexico in place, and in August 2021 a federal judge in Texas ruled that the government must restart MPP. The Supreme Court overturned the Texas court’s ruling in July.
Biden Task Force Reunites 400 Children Separated From Parents at Border
A Biden administration task force has reunited 400 migrant children with their parents after they were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under a Trump-era policy.
More than 5,000 children were forcibly separated from their families under President Donald Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance policy” between July 2017 and June 2018. About 1,000 of the families are yet to be reunited because either the Trump administration failed to keep records of where the children were sent or the parents had already been deported.
Biden vowed to make reuniting families a top priority if he won the election, and last year his administration created a task force led by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas to identify and reunite separated parents and children.
In most of the recently reunited cases, the parents were deported to their home countries, said Michelle Brane, executive director of the Family Reunification Task Force. These parents are now allowed to enter the U.S. with any dependent family members and legally live in the country for three years.
The goal of Trump’s family separation policy was to deter unauthorized migration across the southern border. In June 2018, a federal judge in California ordered the government to halt the policy, saying it “shocks the conscience” and violates the Constitution.
Immigration Judges’ Association Fighting To Re-Unionize
After it was decertified three months ago in front of a Republican majority panel, the association representing immigration judges is battling to regain its negotiating powers.
The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), established in 1971, had filed a petition to be recognized as a new union after immigration judges were declared ineligible for union rights in 2020.
After President Biden’s pick for the labor board, Susan Tsui Grundmann, was confirmed by the Senate, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) board had a new Democratic majority. Given the new panel members, the NAIJ hopes the panel will come to a different conclusion.
The NAIJ members say the decertification was for political reasons. Mimi Tsankov, president of the NAIJ, said the last three months had brought about a lot of problems that the union could have helped solve.
NAIJ’s fight to maintain its bargaining powers has been an ongoing issue for years. They were heavily scrutinized under the Trump administration, when the first attempt to dismantle their union arose. The union had been a vocal critic of some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
In 2020, the Republican majority panel concluded that immigration judges were ineligible for union protections. NAIJ was permitted to continue bargaining as a union while their appeals continued but were officially decertified in April 2022.
The NAIJ has ongoing litigation after bringing its fight to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.