Grassley: Asylum Reform Needed to Reduce Backlog, Promote Humane Treatment of Migrants
Aug 01, 2019
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement after the committee advanced legislation to improve integrity and efficiency in the nation’s overburdened asylum system. The Secure and Protect Act was reported to the full Senate by a vote of 12-10.
“The historic flow of migrants at our Southern border has overwhelmed our asylum system and is stretching our immigration resources beyond their limit. Sadly, our existing asylum laws are encouraging more migrants to embark on a dangerous journey through Central America. As a result, our migrant housing facilities are beyond capacity. I joined a bipartisan effort in Congress to allocate an additional $4.6 billion for migrant care once they arrive, but as I said then, solving this crisis will require more than money.
“The Secure and Protect Act begins the process of updating our asylum laws, closing loopholes exploited by human traffickers and ensuring families can stay together while their asylum claims are processed on an expedited basis. These and other reforms are supported by career immigration officials. They are necessary to reduce frivolous asylum claims and ensure the humane treatment of children and other vulnerable migrants.
“Because of the ongoing crisis at the border and the need for Congress to take action, I also believe this emergency measure should be considered by the Senate on its own merits. It should not be tied to other immigration policy proposals that are unrelated to addressing the crisis at hand,” Grassley said.
The Secure and Protect Act, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, helps to slow the growth of the U.S. asylum claim backlog by leveraging other countries’ capacities to provide safe haven for migrants. It also establishes several U.S. refugee processing centers in other countries so migrants can begin the adjudication process before attempting to travel to the United States. The bill ensures that families in U.S.-based migrant housing facilities are able to stay together while their claims are processed and prioritizes resolution of claims involving children. Residential centers must also be safe and secure, and provide suitable access to basic needs and services such as food, water and medical care. To expedite adjudication of the existing backlog, the bill requires the hiring of 500 additional immigration judges as well as additional legal staff to match the increase in judges.