HIAS Urges House to Reject Proposed Sweeping Changes at the Border
Apr 26, 2023
SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS is urging the House Homeland Security Committee to reject the Border Reinforcement Act of 2023, which would lead to sweeping policy changes at the U.S.-Mexico border. The legislation being marked up today would mandate the resumption of border wall construction, double the number of border patrol agents, and deny funds to organizations that provide essential services to asylum seekers, including shelter, transportation, and legal support.
“This bill is being touted as a solution to the increased numbers of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, but it’s yet another example of an ongoing effort to punish people seeking protection, instead of offering solutions to the real challenges we face,” said HIAS Vice President of U.S. Policy and Advocacy Naomi Steinberg. “These restrictive policy proposals ignore the realities faced by both asylum seekers and the communities that aim to welcome and support them. It’s time for Congress to rise to the occasion and provide long-term solutions that bolster an infrastructure to support the fair and efficient processing of asylum seekers.”
During a recent visit to San Diego, CA, a delegation of rabbis led by HIAS viewed conditions at the border and heard from staff at humanitarian organizations working in both the U.S. and Mexico about the problems they encounter every day. One member of the delegation, Rabbi David Steinhardt of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida, recalled, “What I saw at the border is not merely political. I saw a humanitarian crisis. I saw people of all ages from countries all over the world placing their last ounce of hope in our nation as one that stands for life, liberty, and opportunity. We have seen time and time again that higher walls and more restrictions are ineffective, in addition to violating the human rights of people seeking protection in this country. The U.S. needs a solid immigration policy. The burden of this humanitarian tragedy should not be shouldered by a few border states.”
HIAS’ Naomi Steinberg concluded, “The United States does not need to threaten the safety of asylum seekers to secure our borders. Instead, we urge Congress to focus on real solutions, including increased funding to reduce the asylum backlog, and improved access to legal counsel for those seeking protection in this country.”