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Secure the Border Act of 2023


The Secure the Border Act of 2023 was passed in the House of Representatives on May 11, 2023. With the threat of a government shutdown on November 15, 2023, there is great concern that the Bill will pass in the Senate as a trade off to keep the government open and/or to provide aid to Ukraine and Israel. H.R. 2 encompasses extreme anti-immigration proposals that will have devastating effects on our immigration system. If passed, H.R. 2 will significantly hurt immigrant communities by restricting the right to asylum, limiting lawful avenues to legal residency, and resuming the construction of the Border wall. H.R. 2 will result in 4 million fewer people receiving parole over the next ten years and reduce the number of people granted asylum by 200,000. Immigrants’ List Civic Action urges its members to call their Senators and ask them to vote against any Senate proposal that contains the provisions of H.R. 2. 


The new spending bill includes:

  • Title VI Sec. 601 - OVERSTAYS
    ○ The Bill will reclassify the act of overstaying a visa as “illegal entry”. The act of an
    individual overstaying their visas or failing to maintain status for ten days or more will be
    punishable by up to six months of imprisonment for first time offenders and civil
    penalties that will double with each subsequent offense.


  • Title VII Sec. 701 - PAROLE
    ○ The Bill will end the Executive Branch’s statutory parole power, precluding humanitarian
    parole programs for vulnerable groups. These groups include, but are not limited to,
    Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Ukrainians, and Afghans. As a result, individuals will not be
    granted Employment authorization or parole unless they are Cuban or Military members.
    Urgent humanitarian reasons for parole will be defined as a medical emergency, or to
    attend a funeral.


  • Division A Section 102 - BUILDING OF BORDER WALL
    ○ The Bill will require the Department of Homeland Security to resume construction of the border wall.


  • Division B Title 1 - ASYLUM
    ○ The Bill will restrict the right to asylum by limiting eligibility requirements for migrants
    seeking asylum, and adding new categories for ineligibility.
    ■ Those will not be eligible if (I) they did not arrive at a legal port of entry; (II) if
    they could be removed to another country to apply for similar protection; (III) if
    they traveled through another country that is a party to the Refugee Convention
    but did not seek protection there.
    ○ The Bill redefines: persecution to only include severe levels of harm; political opinion to
    end imputed opinion; social group to exclude gang membership, interpersonal disputes,
    recruitment; and targeting applicants due to financial gain. It establishes categories of
    ineligibility including unlawful receipt of Federal Public Benefits, two DUIs, misdemeanor unlawful possession or use of an identity document; and any felony. It lists
    discretionary grounds for denying asylum including failure to pay taxes and unlawful
    presence for more than one year prior to filing asylum.
    ○ No employment authorization before 180 days after filing and no renewal for more than 5 months. Renewal will be terminated immediately following the BIA denial.

    ○ The Bill will accelerate the removal process of unaccompanied minors. It will extend the
    return policy beyond Mexico and Canada to all countries where the U.S. enters into
    agreements, and require that agreements be negotiated; notably the Northern Triangle


    ○ The Bill will require all employers nationally to utilize the Employment Verification
    (E-Verify) system to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United
    States. Employers found to be in noncompliance with this requirement will be subject to
    criminal penalties.


Here is a plan that makes sense and addresses the real problems in immigration and helps the workforce of the United States:


1. Substantially increase funding for anti-smuggling operations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Money that would go to the “border” would be better served in stopping smugglers from bringing people to the border.

2. Instead of changing the criteria for “credible fear” or “expedited removal” provide the resources to increase the number of immigration judges, asylum officers, and CBP Field Operations Officers at the border so that determinations may be made in weeks not months regarding asylum. Border courts would ensure due process, appoint defense counsel and provide strict time limitations. This must be coupled by the restoration of judicial review to provide, at least in cases of gross misfeasance, review of officers’ conduct. No one is above the law except current CBP officers in expedited removal and other immigration officers in additional circumstances.

3. Provide increased resources to border organizations and cities and counties throughout the U.S. to expedite the removal of people from the border to the interior of the U.S. This must be coupled with a mandate that cities and counties throughout the U.S. are required to accept proportional numbers of people to their populations and economic need. Funds must be given to the cities and counties to cover expenses and resettlement but must be coupled with the mandate they accept people in their cities and counties. 


4. Economic development centers for manufacturing must be established in the Northern Triangle and other countries to ensure that the United States does not have a supply chain problem as we had during COVID. Once again, the PRC is far ahead of the U.S. in this area. They are already establishing massive manufacturing centers in Mexico and other Central American countries to prevent another supply chain problem from arising in the future. We need to encourage U.S. business to do the same. Economic development on a large scale will certainly slow the pace of people seeking entry to the U.S. 

5. Changing definitions for asylum, exceptions to asylum,  and credible fear does nothing to stop people from coming to the United States. If these changes are sought, they should be limited solely to exceptions under current law. For example, “interpersonal disputes”  or “being subject to recruitment”  without more is currently not a  basis for asylum. In addition, using alternatives to detention based upon providing cell phones and other nonintrusive methods of checking on the location of persons in removal should not be opposed universally. However, in exchange for these concessions, members of Congress should seek:

  • A broad application of  the registry provision to 2023 in recognition of the needs of the U.S. labor market. 

  • Structural changes to adjustment of status that make it easier to become a resident without leaving the U.S. including eliminating 245(c)(2) and (c)(8) and allowing persons who are EWI to adjust. 

  • The end to the counting of derivatives in family and employment law

  • A statute of limitations on all grounds of inadmissibility

  • A waiver of all grounds of inadmissibility

  • Reestablishment of judicial review to ensure that persons given expedited treatment at the border have due process.


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