The speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected after fifteen rounds of voting, McCarthy needed to agree to some concessions for House Republicans which were accepted in a rule package on the 9th of January. Chip Roy (R-TX) flipped his vote and voted in support of McCarthy in the 12th vote. The San Antonio Express-News reports that among the concessions made was the promise to speed-up Roy's border security bill for an early vote on the floor this year.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Roy, H.R.29 the Border Safety and Security Act for 2023, is classified as controversial. Over 250 refugee, human rights, and immigration groups sent an email to lawmakers in Congress opposing the bill on the 12th of January.
H.R.29 authorizes the Secretary of the Homeland Security Administration to eject asylum seekers, regardless of whether they can prove that they are in danger and under the threat of persecution. This is done by using executive discretion in detention capacity, and establishes requirements for visas and permits the state attorney generals to bring lawsuits for the absence of enforcement of these measures.
Aaron Reichlin Melnick, Policy Director at the American Immigration Council, called the bill “a total end to asylum,” writing:
“The border bill that the House GOP are set to adopt would result in permanent expulsions that are mandatory at every airport or border crossing for anyone who does not have a valid visa or entry certificate, even a child traveling on their own or who is found abandoned, without exemptions. This would mean an absolute ending to asylum.”
“The bill does not only require the end of asylum until each and every person who crosses the border is detained (which is physically impossible), it also grants DHS an unrestricted discretionary power to stop asylum at any border.”
There's a lot of opposition from GOP representatives, too. On Saturday, Tony Gonzales (R-TX) tweeted:
“The time for conservatives who govern to be in charge is now. Infuriating anti-immigrant statements do nothing to secure the border.”
Gonzales tells San Antonio Express-News:
“It is proposing a complete shutdown at the border for all immigrants — making no exceptions for those who are in legitimate life-or-death circumstances.”
“It's not only extreme and dangerous, but it could result in a higher reliance on smuggling networks to get across illegally. It is clear that we require a stronger approach to border security; however, to make things better in the long run we must examine the possibility of changing our system of immigration, and not completely abolishing it.”
On the 15th of January, Gonzales posted a photo of kids lying in an open field. He claimed they were thrown in there by an organized crime cartel. Gonzales wrote:
“The United States is a compassionate Christian nation. We all agree that our asylum system requires MAJOR overhaul, but abolishing it is an overstep. The cartel threw these children in the field. Would denying their rescue make our borders any more secure or safe?”
On the 18th of January, Roy wrote on his Twitter account that border security demands adjudication or changing “folks” away, while dissing opponents who support Title 42, an executive order to expel migrants on the basis of COVID-19 health emergency. Roy tweeted:
“Security at the border involves detaining individuals to adjudicate any claim (eg asylum) or denying them. People who are critical of such a policy should not advocate Title 42 (a health policy) that… is a no-go. #EndBorderCrisis”
The number of migrants crossing the border increased between November and the end of December, by seven percent. This was aided by the influx of immigrants who came from Cuba in the Caribbean and Nicaragua.
CBS News reports:
“The month of December was a record-breaking one. U.S. officials along the Mexican border reported 42,637 interactions with Cubans and 35,389 meetings with Nicaraguans, all-time monthly highs in both countries.”
On Thursday, the Biden administration concluded two days of discussions with the Cuban government. Biden is currently reviewing the Cuban government's position. Biden is examining Cuba's inclusion in the list of states that sponsor of terrorism. The Trump administration designated the country as such in 2021.