Peters & Durbin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Respond to Immediate Needs at Southern Border

Bill will Provide Resources to Secure the Border and Efficiently Process Asylum Seekers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to respond to immediate needs at our nation’s Southern Border. The legislation provides funding and authorities to ensure the federal government can secure our borders and manage the flow of migration. 

“Congress must act to provide frontline border security personnel with the resources they need to safely and effectively carry out their challenging mission,” Senator Peters said.  “This bill will provide the resources and authorities needed to help secure the border, prevent illegal activities like drug trafficking, efficiently process asylum applications, and swiftly remove people whose applications are denied or are otherwise prohibited from remaining in the country.” 

“Congress has failed to fix America’s broken immigration system, and today, our communities, businesses, and frontline law-enforcement officials are facing the consequences of congressional inaction,” Senator Durbin said. “I have long urged my Republican colleagues to come to the table and negotiate on a bipartisan basis to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  But American communities and federal officials need our assistance today, and this proposal will provide the resources needed to secure our border and meet the urgent needs of our communities.  I hope my colleagues—Democrats and Republicans—support this proposal and show the American people that we can move past the partisan bickering to support frontline officials and American communities.” 

Along with Peters and Durbin, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

The Border Management, Security, and Assistance Act of 2023 includes the following key elements:

  • Strengthens Border Security: This legislation would provide funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to increase capacity, personnel, and technology to strengthen security at the Southern Border.  It would provide new resources for innovative technology and smarter capabilities that improve situational awareness between ports of entry, and significant investments to increase staff and improve technologies at ports of entry, including tools to prevent drug trafficking and other criminal activity. It would create a Transportation Coordinator to facilitate coordination between the federal government, and state and local governments.
  • Consequences for Unlawful Entry: This legislation would provide resources to deter unlawful migration by enforcing consequences for unauthorized border crossings. The legislation would ensure efficient processing and swift removal of people whose applications are denied and are otherwise prohibited from remaining in the country, including by adding resources for immigration officers and judges to quickly screen and deny ineligible cases.  It would also enhance penalties for human smuggling, drug trafficking, and illegal surveillance of border security personnel, and add resources for U.S. attorneys for increased law enforcement activities related to southwest border enforcement.
  • Enhances Lawful Processes: This proposal would build upon the initial success of the Biden Administration’s Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela Parole program, which reduced apprehensions of nationals from those four countries by 97 percent, by providing resources for infrastructure to process migrants and asylum seekers in Latin America, and streamlining connections to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for groups experiencing persecution in the region.  It would also increase resources for U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) to help the agency to ensure efficient processing of asylum claims and applications for employment authorization.  Finally, it would improve the employment authorization process for individuals who comply with legal requirements. 
  • Supports American Communities: This proposal would provide local communities and nongovernmental organizations that are receiving asylum seekers—both at the border and in the interior of the United States—with the resources that they need and ensure that federal agencies are coordinating with such communities and organizations.
  • Supports Frontline Personnel: This bill would provide additional support to frontline officials through hiring additional CBP officers, processing coordinators, and contracting staff to enable law enforcement personnel to carry out critical law enforcement duties.  In recognition that our frontline personnel are critical to the nation’s security, the bill also provides critical funding to support employee retention, recruitment, and wellness efforts.