Only Bipartisan Action Can Solve the Border Crisis


While some politicians and media figures alike long proclaimed Title 42—the pandemic-era policy of rapid border expulsions—as some kind of stop-gap solution for immigration, many of us repeatedly asserted that this harmful policy made a challenging situation at our southern border much worse. And despite a sharp decrease in the number of migrants arriving at the border after the policy was lifted, there are those, like presidential hopeful Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) still claiming that its termination will create a crisis like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Not only has this proven not to be true, but it highlights how far members of Congress will go in order to deflect their own responsibility to modernize and fix our long-broken immigration system.

Immigration is one of the most challenging issues for our government. Crises throughout the globe—from crushing poverty, to persecution and violence, to the rise of authoritarianism—have driven vulnerable populations from their homeland throughout our hemisphere. But instead of responsive legislative reform and strategic appropriations, Congress has been paralyzed by politics for decades and has clung to short-sighted, short-term, and expensive Band-Aids like Title 42 that exacerbate what has become a humanitarian crisis.

There are a number of thoughtful ideas that provide a roadmap for a better approach, but Congress must be willing to appropriate the necessary resources for them. Until then, we should at least adequately fund the immediate needs in receiving communities like my own.

The U.S. Capitol building is seen.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Shortly before the lifting of Title 42, El Paso, Texas, saw hundreds of migrants sleeping in the streets around one of our historic downtown churches—a situation we saw last December as well. While we have been supported by FEMA funds—funding never before made available—some communities like New York and Chicago have grappled with their own limited shelter space and capacity. And because Congress approved only about half of the funding the president requested in order to address the lifting of Title 42 late last year, it’s been difficult for the administration to provide resources to every receiving community. And shockingly, there are many in the Republican conference who want to zero out those funds altogether. Doing so would create a humanitarian catastrophe that is completely avoidable.

Many of my Republican colleagues rightfully point out that the majority of recent migrants who have made the treacherous journey to the United States are seeking work and a better life and will probably not qualify for asylum under existing law. But they refuse to acknowledge that our country is facing a labor shortage and has historically benefitted from an immigrant workforce and their entrepreneurship, and are unwilling to create new or expand existing (and limited) legal pathways.

Instead, they are focused on the same, failed strategy used by our government for decades: focusing on immigration as a border-only issue. The current House Republican appropriations wish list includes slashing funding to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and spending $2 billion on a wall. And the partisan border bill they recently passed includes draconian provisions, like removing protections for children and punishing organizations that offer humanitarian support to migrants.

Their bill will never become law.

The impasse on immigration between the two parties guarantees that we do nothing but waste time and resources. Both sides of the aisle cannot continue to hold out for their version of ideal reform. We’ve been doing that for over 30 years. Our inability to come together in a bipartisan way ensures that the challenge—and our inability to contend with it—continues to grow exponentially.

It may be convenient for members of Congress to assert that this is the president’s issue and his alone, but most Americans understand that the task of fixing our immigration system is too big for one branch of government. Modernizing immigration law with meaningful, permanent solutions that restore dignity and humanity to our immigration system is Congress’ job, and we need solution-minded members of both parties to come to the table.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar represents Texas’ 16th congressional district in El Paso.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.


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