Negotiations to tighten the southern border continue in Washington, as senators search for a potentially elusive deal.
However, some immigration experts question if an agreement would have any tangible impact — at least in the short-term — on New York, where the state is grappling with a surge of asylum seekers.
President Joe Biden has said he would accept new measures aimed at reducing the flow of migrants across the border in return for Republicans approving tens of billions of dollars in new aid for Ukraine.
“I think it's pretty safe to say we've made some significant progress, but we obviously aren't there,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, told reporters Tuesday.
Among the policy changes reportedly under consideration: detaining those claiming asylum and quickly expelling some migrants to Mexico before their asylum screening.
But immigration law experts, like Stephen Yale-Loehr with Cornell Law School, warn this alone would not solve the problem for cities like New York, which is currently grappling with a surge of migrants.
“Probably not, because the crisis is larger than any one piece of legislation,” Yale-Loehr said.
Yale-Loehr likens the policy changes that senators are discussing to a bandage over a gaping wound, saying broader reforms are needed. He suggested for Congress consider ideas like making more work visas available.
“We need to have a balanced approach. Yes, we need to have deterrence so that only those people who deserve to be in the United States can come. But we also need to find more legal pathways for people to enter legally in the United States, so that they are not tempted to enter illegally,” he said.
At the same time, the Biden administration is hopeful that the more than $13 billion in border-related funding that the president included in his initial proposal could have an impact.
Whether Congress passes it remains to be seen.
“That will provide a lot of help for cities like New York. That will provide help at the border, because it will enable us to hire more Border Patrol agents, more asylum officers, more asylum judges so that we can process cases faster and better,” Tom Perez, a senior advisor to the president, told Spectrum News in an interview.
Democrats and the White House want a deal sooner rather than later, saying Ukraine is about to exhaust the U.S. assistance that’s already been approved. But Senate Republicans warned it’s unlikely an agreement can be nailed down before the Christmas break.
By Tuesday evening, McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged that reality, saying in a joint statement that it is their hope that the Senate will “take swift action on the national security supplemental early in the new year.” Negotiations on border policy, meanwhile, are set to continue.
And any agreement would need the approval of House Republicans, who have become increasingly wary of sending more money to Kyiv.