The Immigration Forum has analyzed the new House bill on immigration: The Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act (H.R. 7372) introduced on February 15, 2024 by a bipartisan group of House members. Below is a condensed version of the Forum’s analysis. In a nut shell, the bill expands expulsion authority, provides for but then qualifies humanitarian exceptions, imposes “Remain in Mexico” (which requires Mexican agreement), and does not increase immigration staffing, needed both to handle current volume and to reduce the backlog. Funding for Ukraine, Israel and West Asian national security is included.
The Immigration Forum’s analysis (condensed):
The bill includes changes to border security and asylum policies, along with $66.32 billion in national security spending. Key provisions require immigration officers to expel migrants at the southern border for one year, give the DHS Secretary authority to suspend entry of migrants, limit transferring detained migrants, and restart the Migrant Protection Protocols (“Remain in Mexico”) program. Exceptions allow migrants with credible fear of persecution or torture to be screened by asylum officers.
However, the bill provides no funding to reduce asylum backlogs. A concerning provision allows DHS to override humanitarian protections and categorically bar asylum seekers. The bill also restricts use of funds to transfer migrants for medical care or to avoid overcrowding.
To process migrants at ports of entry, it requires determining safe processing capacity per location and prioritizing those with disabilities, medical needs or fear of persecution. While seeking to enhance border security, the bill risks undermining humanitarian protections and due process for migrants.
Key concerns include expanded expulsion authority, barriers to asylum, and limits on migrant transfers needed for health and safety. The legislation comes as an alternative to a failed Senate bipartisan immigration deal, signalling continued partisan disagreement over immigration reform.