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Slotkin unveils bipartisan bills to enhance border security

Congresswoman Rep. Elissa Slotkin. a Democrat who recently moved from Holly to Lansing, is joining with Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, and introducing a pair of bills Wednesday seeking to manage migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bills would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take a “whole-of-government approach to prevent migration surges at the border before they happen, as well as requiring DHS to partner with countries in Central America to counter human trafficking efforts that exacerbate surges along the border.”

The Emergency Migration Response Act would appropriate $1.5 billion for an “Emergency Migration Response Fund” allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) to manage temporary migrant processing facilities, medical care, transportation and staffing costs. It also would allow DHS to redirect staff to the border to process asylum claims and “(surge) resources to process migrants in their countries of origin.”

The second bill, the Border Security and Migrant Safety Act, would “create an intelligence analytic cell to provide necessary insight on concentrated surges of migration to the southwest border and require DHS to partner with neighboring countries to counter malicious actors like transnational criminal organizations.”

The bill also would develop a task force within DHS to combat human trafficking and smuggling, and direct DHS and the State Department to expand coordination with law enforcement in Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to prevent trafficking.

Our immigration system has been broken for multiple administrations – Democrat and Republican. Neither party has provided real solutions to the crisis at our southern border that incentivize people to apply from their home country,” said Slotkin in a statement. “I reject the idea that we have to choose between border security and welcoming those who want to come to the U.S. legally in search of a better life. We can and must do both – to improve our national security and grow our economy by filling the many job vacancies that continue to hold American small businesses back.”

The legislation is being proposed the same week that a federal judge is expected to decide whether or not to block the elimination of Title 42, an emergency public health order set to expire on May 23. Originally implemented under former President Donald Trump, Title 42 directs CBP to turn back migrants at the southern border without the opportunity to seek asylum due to the pandemic. While the Biden Administration continued the policy, it exempted unaccompanied children and instead placed them in state or federal shelters until they can be connected to a family member or sponsor in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking to end Title 42, citing the availability of vaccines and decreased Covid-19 cases. DHS has predicted the daily influx of migrants will likely more than double, increasing to up to 18,000 per day, if the policy is lifted

In a letter last month to Biden, Slotkin urged a delay in lifting Title 42 until the administration has a plan in place “to address the inevitable migration surge.”

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