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House Republicans Pass Hardline Immigration Bill As Title 42 Ends

May 17, 2023

The U.S. Capitol building backlit by morning sunlight, with a blue sky and light, thin lines of clouds emanating from behind the rotunda.

With the last COVID-19 restrictions officially lifted at the U.S.-Mexico border, House Republicans have passed a sweeping immigration bill aimed at bolstering border security and imposing restrictions on asylum seekers.

The House bill proposes several measures reminiscent of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Notably, it seeks to construct additional sections of the border wall along the southern border. The bill also places stricter limitations on asylum seekers by requiring them to cross the border legally, pay a $50 fee, and meet more rigorous criteria during initial interviews to establish a credible fear of persecution in their home country. Democratic lawmakers argue that these provisions fail to address the root causes of migration and that the proposed legislation constitutes a near “ban on asylum.”

Despite the backlash, House Republicans have rallied behind the bill, claiming it is a necessary step to curb illegal immigration and protect national security. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reiterated his party’s campaign promise to “secure the border,” calling the proposed legislation the “strongest border security bill in U.S. history.”

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The bill’s journey through the House was not without its challenges, as internal divisions within the Republican party led to delays and amendments to appease various factions. The version of the bill passed represents a compromise between mainstream Republicans and hardline conservatives, who advocate for more significant changes to asylum and immigration laws.

Although the bill is unlikely to become law (President Biden pledged to veto it if it reaches his desk), the legislation has sparked a renewed conversation about immigration reform in the Senate. Some lawmakers hope that the bill’s passage could create momentum for a separate package that combines robust border enforcement with expanded legal immigration, including work visas and potential pathways to citizenship for certain undocumented immigrants.

However, with Democrats and Republicans still deeply divided over the future of immigration in the U.S., comprehensive immigration reform remains a significant challenge in a post-Title 42 world.

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