Population Connection Urges Swift Passage of National Security Act

Published: February 6, 2024

Population Connection has always believed that the United States needs a well-regulated immigration system, consistent with basic human and civil rights. That’s why we support the just-released bipartisan Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act slated for Senate consideration later this week.

Key provisions include:

  • Termination of parole under which migrants seeking asylum are released and must wait years for immigration court hearings;
  • Creation of a highly regulated, expedited system for asylum seekers who arrive at the border. Those who qualify will be approved for entry, and those who don’t will be returned to their home country;
  • Provision of work visas for people who qualify for asylum;
  • Mandatory “border emergency” shutdowns when the daily level of migrants exceeds specified review capacity;
  • An increase in family unification visas;
  • A guarantee of access to legal counsel for children involved in removal procedures;
  • $20 billion for border enforcement which includes hiring border patrol and asylum officers.

The bill also includes significant funding to support Ukraine in its war against Russian invaders, security aid for Israel, and humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip and Ukraine — among other provisions.

With up to 12,000 people per day arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border without legal authorization to enter, Congress’s chronic refusal to pass comprehensive immigration legislation has made President Biden’s call for “tougher border control” urgent as our nation faces what he correctly describes as a “border crisis.” The situation has also strained the resources of communities far from the border, where tens of thousands of migrants have been bused, creating a humanitarian crisis. That’s why Biden is asking Congress to send this bill to his desk for signature so he can take decisive action.

President Biden’s urgent call for action has been echoed by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) who recently said that “the border is overwhelmed at this moment.” Freshman U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) put it this way: “We have a crisis at our border, and it can’t be controversial that we should have a secure border.” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said that “Montanans want that border secure. I want that border secure.” We stand with these senators — and with President Biden.

To be sure, the bill has flaws. It doesn’t provide increased foreign aid to beleaguered “sending” nations facing difficult challenges. And it lacks a pathway to eventual citizenship for most “Dreamers” of sound character who were brought here as minors by parents who entered without authorization. But, especially in these fractious, highly partisan times, progress demands compromise.

The New York Times rightly describes the measure as “a necessary and long overdue step to restore the public’s confidence in the federal government’s ability to maintain control over immigration.”

Vice President Kamala Harris has properly criticized those “who are intent on standing in the way of solutions because they want the political chit, they want to play the political card on the problem instead of fixing it.”

If obstructionists in Congress defeat this measure, they will bear responsibility for perpetuation of a broken immigration system.