Over the past several months, a handful of senators have negotiated behind closed doors to reach an agreement on potential changes to U.S. immigration law. This is in response to calls by some members of Congress to condition the enactment of supplemental funding on the inclusion of extraneous policy provisions for which there is no precedent in the appropriations process. These proposed changes have been included in the Senate's version of H.R. 815, the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024".
In a February 6 letter to Senate leadership, Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, expressed no position on the overall measure but stated that "this effort to make sweeping changes to immigration law—particularly in the context of this supplemental funding bill—is flawed, both in terms of substance and form. Rather than sustainably reducing migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, consistent with the common good and the good-faith intentions of many lawmakers, several changes proposed in this bill would unjustly undermine due process and pave the way for avoidable and potentially life-threatening harm to be inflicted on vulnerable persons seeking humanitarian protection in the United States."
In his letter, Bishop Seitz addressed several specific provisions that warranted concern, including those that would severely limit due process for noncitizens, make it even more difficult than it already is under current law for those with bona fide asylum claims to pursue protection in the United States, and create the opportunity for harmful, arbitrary, and counterproductive treatment of vulnerable persons.
At the same time, the USCCB has expressed support for several aspects of the bill, including supplemental funding for humanitarian relief efforts, refugee resettlement, the Shelter and Services Program, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and related efforts to address the root causes of conflict and migration, as well as long-term relief for Afghans relocated to the United States and improved access to protection for at-risk Afghans abroad, increased opportunities for family reunification and employment-based immigration, expanded access to work authorization for newcomers, and ensuring vulnerable children have assistance navigating their immigration proceedings.
Complete this action alert to join with the U.S. bishops in opposing harmful and counterproductive changes to immigration law as a condition for supplemental funding.
You can also learn more about the changes contained in H.R. 815 by reading this policy brief from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and viewing these recent resources from the USCCB, which address two different mechanisms that would be employed extensively under H.R. 815's changes: