An urgent bid by the Biden administration to send a fresh infusion of money to Ukraine for its war against Russia has stalled on Capitol Hill as congressional Republicans demand sweeping changes to the immigration system.
Bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill to resolve the impasse have focused on the U.S.-Mexico border — and whether the United States can keep using its current system for deciding who is allowed to enter the country and seek asylum.
It is a highly charged debate that touches on a bedrock principle that has long been at the center of American immigration policy: that the United States should be a refuge for people who were being persecuted or under threat in their home countries.
Here’s what is in play.
Why focus on asylum?
In recent years, a skyrocketing number of migrants have arrived at the southern U.S. border seeking asylum — whether or not they actually were eligible. The increasing number of arrivals during the Biden administration has fueled Republican attacks on how the asylum system works and led to demands for major changes.
Republicans, and a growing number of Democrats, say the system has grown dysfunctional because it effectively allows any migrant to enter the country, claim they fear for their life, and remain for years as their case makes its way through immigration court.
Immigration advocates and experts say that U.S. law allows any migrant crossing the border the right to seek asylum and have their claim be heard, and that attempts to bar or limit them are both illegal and immoral.
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