Sen. Bob Menendez announced a plan for managing immigration to the United States that would rely completely on executive actions by President Joe Biden, including increasing legal pathways, protecting migrants and punishing human traffickers.
Menendez, D-N.J., who has long been a voice on national immigration issues, chastised the administration for its efforts so far and pushed Biden to go around Congress to take more concrete action.
Menendez said his plan would create new pathways for immigrants to relieve the current pressure at the Southwest border and increase resources to relieve the asylum backlog. His plan also calls for more humanitarian assistance for refugees across Latin America and would increase efforts to tackle the network of human traffickers who drive migrants to the border for a price.
“For the last year, I have repeatedly expressed concerns over the Biden administration’s decision to implement short-term deterrence policies that fail to address the cycle of irregular migration at our southwest border,” Menendez said in a statement.
“My plan provides a set of policies that will secure our borders without sacrificing our domestic and legal obligations to asylum seekers by working with partners in the region to give people alternative options to illegal smuggling networks.”
Menendez said, more importantly, his plan can be done through executive action to break through inaction by Congress, which has not taken up a comprehensive immigration plan in years.
Menendez’s said one of the key components would be to view migration as a challenge for the Western Hemisphere and not just a problem at the United State’s southwest border.
“Successive U.S. administrations have designed their domestic and foreign policies to respond to shifting needs at the border, an approach that has not created a sustainable long-term solution to a mixed flow of migrants and refugees,” a statement from Menendez’s office said.
“Our nation’s migration approach is enforcement-driven, reactive, and overly focused on punitive policies to deter migrants once they arrive at our borders; however, the region’s challenges require a comprehensive U.S. approach that recognizes individual country conditions that drive irregular migration.”
Menendez’s plan calls for the creation of a parole program for individuals who can fill positions facing a labor shortage and expand access to H-2 visas in Latin America and Caribbean programming while enhancing labor protections.
It also calls for an increase in funding in Central American countries to help address the flow of migration at its roots.
Menendez’s plan comes after the Biden administration in February took fire from many of its allies for a new immigration rule that they said would illegally ban refugees from seeking asylum. That policy change made migrants’ claims for admission illegal if they did not arrive at a port of entry or without an appointment.
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