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May 16, 2023

King Introduces Legislation to Strengthen, Stabilize Immigration Policies at the Southern Border

As public health emergency rules expire, new proposal helps secure the border & efficiently process asylum seekers Legislation also includes King priority to expedite asylum-seekers’ work permits for Maine’s small businesses looking for workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Angus King has introduced legislation to secure America’s southern border from the unlawful entry of asylum seekers and illegal drugs. While not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, the Border Management, Security, and Assistance Act provides immediate assistance to border personnel with additional resources and technology. The bill also provides critical support to nongovernment organizations that receive asylum seekers and includes Senator King’s longstanding goal of streamlining the visa permit process for businesses looking to hire new employees with a 30-day authorization process.

“The United States is nation of immigrants and also a nation of laws,” said Senator King.The Border Management, Security, and Assistance Act will support border patrol personnel in their efforts to stop people and drugs from unlawful entry into our country. As Congress works toward a comprehensive, responsible approach to manage the southern border, this bill strikes an appropriate balance. It will ease the burden on border communities, provide legal pathways for additional work visas, and support the frontline men and women who are keeping our nation safe — ultimately, ensuring that the United States remains true to its values of security and opportunity.”

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

The Border Management, Security, and Assistance Act takes the following key steps:

  • 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.  According to the legislation, someone who is processed by DHS, not detained, and not determined by DHS to have a frivolous asylum claim is able to receive work authorization within 30 days -- lessening the burden on state and local governments by making asylum seekers self-sufficient. In addition, it will ease the burden on businesses looking for workers in Maine.
  • 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.  

Senator King has been a longtime advocate of reducing red tape for businesses looking to hire immigrants. He most recently co-sponsored the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2023 to shorten the waiting period before asylum seekers are allowed to receive work authorizations. He also led the push for the Department of Homeland Security to increase H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2023 to the maximum number—a visa category that many Maine hospitality businesses rely on during their busy seasons.

Bill text is available here


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