Following a burst of legislative activity leading up to the Memorial Day recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill a few paces forward through a 13 to 5 vote to advance the bill to the Senate floor for consideration. Senate leaders have announced that debate on the bill will start as early as next week with the goal of passing it by the 4th of July, although CIR’s path in the House is less clear.
Thanks to the tireless work of advocates across the country like you, some of the worst amendments were rejected by senators in the Judiciary Committee markup process, and senators voted to support several small, yet meaningful, measures to improve the bill, including a modified version of an amendment put forward by Sen. Coons (D-DE) to limit dangerous deportation practices.
While the Coons amendment was approved, it did not address all of the concerns we had related to dangerous deportation practices. However it does put U.S. policies on a path to progress by requiring:
• Migrant deportations to occur during daylight hours, with some exceptions
• The Department of Homeland Security to undertake a study of the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP), a program of Custom and Border Protection’s “consequence delivery system” in which migrants are transferred and deported through different sector on the border with the state goal of breaking ties with smugglers. We hope this study takes a hard look at recent research that found lateral repatriations to have no deterrent effect for future crossings, but instead needlessly endangers the lives of migrants by deporting them to isolated or dangerous areas of Northern Mexico.
• DHS to return personal items to migrants prior to deportation, such as prescription medicines, cell phones, and personal identification documents, when practicable.
We know that Senator Coons and others were impressed with the number of calls they received in support of their leadership to address dangers to migrants at the border. Before the Senate bill hits the floor next week, we wanted to send a quick note to thank you for your persistence and dedication in reaching out to Senators during the markup process.
We’ll be sending out more updates and action alerts as the immigration bill moves through the Senate. Until then, a huge thank you from the LAWG Mexico and Border team for your solidarity and activism on protecting the lives of migrants in transit.