What to do about the rush of asylum seekers illegally entering the U.S. has divided the country for years, but lawmakers from both major parties today came together to propose a solution.
They're calling this proposal the "Bipartisan Border Solutions Act" and it is starting off with bipartisan sponsorship in both the U.S. House and Senate.
Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn stressed it's a big deal that people have come together to address this issue. He says, “This is truly unique at least in these polarized and contentious times where you have a bipartisan bicameral proposal.”
Supporters say the bill will improve the capacity to manage migration surges and process asylum claims faster. To avoid the political debates on immigration this bill doesn't attempt to change the rules but add more capacity to handle the demand of migrant surges. This will be done by building four new regional processing centers.
Republican Congressman Tony Gonzalez represents much of the border in southwest Texas. He says, “The bottom line is people need help now. Like we need relief today and these processing centers get to the heart of that."
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And these planned centers will have the staffing to handle the surging caseload on site. Gonzalez adds, “Infusing 150+ immigration judges into the equation allows some immediate relief, some immediate processing in a manner in line with our legal system that gives every opportunity to vet claims, but it speeds it up."
And under the plan newly arrived asylum seekers won't be traveling far to speak to a judge. Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar’s district extends from the border to San Antonio. He says, “What we ought to do is put them at the border so we can have the day in court, and if they have to be returned, they’re right there at the border.”
Not that they lack confidence in their plan passing, but even at today's announcement these lawmakers hinted at a Plan B they say as a backup, they could use the appropriations process to budget for more immigration judges to help speed up the current system.