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Congresswoman Escobar Introduces Legislation to Establish a 21st Century Asylum Process

This critical legislation establishes a humane and equitable asylum process designed for America’s immigration realities in the 21st century.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) introduced H.R. 5618, the Reimagining Asylum Processing Act. This critical legislation establishes a humane and equitable asylum process designed for America’s immigration realities in the 21st century.

“For decades, our nation’s response to increased migration has relied on militarizing border communities like El Paso instead of addressing root causes and improving the legal systems and regulations to which we subject asylum seekers. That approach has been costly and ineffective, and a lack of reform has resulted in a backlog of asylum cases, cluttered immigration courts, impacted the operations of agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and subjected countless migrants to due process violations simply for seeking asylum – a human right,” said Congresswoman Escobar. 

“This is unacceptable and must change. My Reimagining Asylum Processing Act – written in consultation with immigration advocates and legal experts to meet the needs of today – will ensure a humanitarian asylum process that treats asylum seekers with dignity, provides them with important resources, and allows for much-needed oversight. This legislation is one component of what needs to be a multi-faceted approach to ensuring we have a functioning immigration system, effective management at the southern border, and security without sacrificing our humanity as a nation.”

The Reimagining Processing Asylum Act establishes a humane and equitable asylum process by:

  • Creating Humanitarian Processing Centers (HPCs), which will provide:
    • Orientation about the asylum-seeking process.
    • Legal counsel and other materials to prepare for a credible fear interview (CFI).
    • Referrals to community-based case management programs.
    • Interpreters.
    • Medical screening.
  • Mandating that individuals apprehended at or between ports of entry be transferred to HPCs.
  • Mandating a rest period of 72 hours after an asylum seeker arrives at an HPC before a credible fear determination interview can be conducted.
  • Prohibits Credible Fear Interviews (CFIs) from being conducted while an asylum seeker is in CBP custody.
  • Limits the presence of CBP and ICE personnel at the Humanitarian Processing Centers, ensuring law enforcement personnel return to the duties they have been trained for at the border. 
  • Requiring that asylum officers consider if a migrant qualifies for any other kind of immigration relief or benefits, including:
    • Any claim under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
    • T or U visas under section 101(a)(15) for victims of severe human trafficking and victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
    • Special immigrant juvenile visas.
    • Family reunification pursuant to an approved I-130 petition.
    • Or any other basis for relief from removal under the immigration laws.
  • Establishes a limit to the days migrants can be held at an HPC, and mandates alternatives to detention – currently, the bill limits this stay to 15 days, after which alternatives to detention must be considered.
  • Ensures access to interpreters for asylum seekers during the credible fear interview and for preparation prior to the interview. 
  • Establishes funding for legal service providers through grants in order to guarantee legal counsel to migrants at HPCs.
  • Allows asylum seekers to adjudicate their asylum claims in the communities where they hope to settle and have the support of their sponsors and community-based case management services.

This legislation builds on Congresswoman Escobar’s efforts to fix our broken immigration system, improve our nation’s economy, and provide solutions to address the root causes of migration. 

To view the bill text the Reimagining Processing Asylum Act click here.

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