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118th Congress Returns from August Recess to Tackle Crucial Southern Border Legislation
As the summer winds down, members of the 118th United States Congress are returning to Capitol Hill after their August recess. With a full plate of legislative priorities awaiting their attention, one key area of focus remains the complex and contentious issue of immigration and border security along the southern border.
Over the past several years, the southern border has been at the forefront of polarizing political debates and visceral policy discussions. The arrival of thousands across the border, the ongoing challenge of drug and human trafficking, and the humanitarian crisis have underscored the need for comprehensive immigration reform and improved border security from a federal level.
This article will serve as a look at some more and less known bills that both the House and Senate will continue looking at when they arrive back in Washington on Tuesday. I’ve made a concerted effort to keep this list a non-partisan list, focusing on what the legislation does, and why the passage of such legislation would be helpful to combat the crisis at the southern border.
Here are some of the key bills and initiatives that the 118th Congress is set to consider as they reconvene on Tuesday, September 5th, 2023:
H.R.29 - Border Safety and Security Act of 2023: This bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to suspend the entry of any non-U.S. nationals (aliens under federal law) without valid entry documents during any period when DHS cannot detain such an individual or return the individual to a foreign country contiguous to the United States. A state may sue DHS to enforce this requirement.
H.R.2 - Secure the Border Act of 2023: This bill makes various changes to immigration law, including by imposing limits on asylum eligibility and requiring employers to use an electronic system to verify the employment eligibility of new employees.
H.R.1531: This bill provides the renewed availability of funds to construct the border wall upon the deployment of the National Guard to the southern land border of the United States and for other purposes.
S.Res.45: This resolution expresses the sense of the Senate that the current influx of migrants is causing a crisis at the southern border.
H.Res.50: This resolution declares that every state within the United States has the sovereign right to exclude any person who does not have the right to be there. It also declares that the states along the southern border (1) are being invaded by terrorists, narco-terrorist cartels, and criminal actors; and (2) have the sovereign and unilateral authority to defend themselves against such an invasion.
H.R.3508 - Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act: This bill requires no later than 12 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a comprehensive southern border strategy.
H.R.725 - Reimbursing Border Communities Act of 2023: This bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to make grants to certain border communities for expenses related to security measures along the southern border. Specifically, the local government of a community is eligible for a grant if it is located within 200 miles of the border and is not a sanctuary jurisdiction as defined by the bill. Additionally, no grant may be used to reimburse nonprofit organizations, fund legal representation, or provide educational, housing, food, or health care resources to a non-U.S. national (alien under federal law).
S.222 - Border Airport Fairness Act of 2023: This bill requires the President to designate certain primary airports near the border as ports of entry and terminate the user fee requirement for customs services at these airports.
S.1897 - Enhancing Southbound Inspections to Combat Cartels Act: This bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to enhance capabilities for outbound inspections at the southern land border.
H.R.163 - Security First Act: This bill reauthorizes the Operation Stonegarden program from FY2024 through FY2027 and addresses other border security issues. (Operation Stonegarden provides grants to enhance the border security capabilities of state, local, and tribal governments.).
H.R.2806 - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rural and Remote Hiring and Retention Strategy Act of 2023: This bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue a strategy and implementation plan to improve hiring and retention of U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel in rural or remote areas.
It's important to note that immigration and border security are deeply polarizing issues, and finding common ground will be a significant challenge for the 118th Congress. However, the urgency of the situation, combined with the stabilization of ideologies, may provide an opportunity for Congress to pass legislation that makes the most impact for a safer border.
As lawmakers return to Washington, they will face pressure from their constituents and border law enforcement groups on both sides of the immigration debate to enact change and comprehensive protection of the United States. The outcome of their deliberations will have far-reaching future implications not only for border communities but for the entire nation.
In the coming months, it will be essential to closely monitor the progress of these bills and the debates surrounding them. The 118th Congress has a unique opportunity to address the complex issues surrounding the southern border, and the decisions they make will shape the future of immigration policy in the United States.
If one of these pieces of legislation stood out to you, and you want to support it, please reach out to your local, state, and federal representative to encourage them to support it and make your voice heard. You can find who represents you by going to the following link: Find Your Representatives - Common Cause
H.R.1531 - 118th Congress (2023-2024): To provide for the renewed availability of funds to construct the border wall upon the deployment of the National Guard to the southern land border of the United States, and for other purposes. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
S.Res.45 - 118th Congress (2023-2024): A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the current influx of migrants is causing a crisis at the southern border. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
H.Res.50 - 118th Congress (2023-2024): Recognizing that article I, section 10 of the United States Constitution explicitly reserves to the States the sovereign power to repel an invasion and defend their citizenry from the overwhelming and "imminent danger" posed by paramilitary, narco-terrorist cartels, terrorists and criminal actors who have seized control of our southern border. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
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