Fact-Checking Claims That Senate Bill Allows 5,000 Unauthorized Immigrants a Day - The World News

Fact-Checking Claims That Senate Bill Allows 5,000 Unauthorized Immigrants a Day

Republican critics have quickly twisted one element of a bipartisan compromise bill unveiled on Sunday to misleadingly suggest that it permits 5,000 migrants to enter the country illegally every day.

The legislation, which links additional funding in military aid for Ukraine with immigration policy, would more aggressively tamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S. border with Mexico.

The claim has become a popular talking point, reflecting broader pushback by Republicans who have seized on the border security provisions in the $118.3 billion bill and derided them as too lax.

But the bill does not, in fact, authorize immigrants to cross the border illegally. Instead, among other provisions, it would give officials the authority to summarily remove migrants, with little recourse, after a certain number cross: an average of 5,000 encounters per day for a week, or 8,500 in a single day.

Here’s a fact check.


“The Biden/Schumer Open Border Bill allows 5,000 immigrants a day into our country.”
— House Republicans in a social media post on Monday

“Here’s what the people pushing this ‘deal’ aren’t telling you: It accepts 5,000 illegal immigrants a day and gives automatic work permits to asylum recipients — a magnet for more illegal immigration.”
— Steve Scalise, the House majority leader, in a social media post on Sunday

“This bill is a disaster. This bill has 5,000 people a day potentially coming into our country. It doesn’t make sense.”
— Former President Donald J. Trump in an interview on Monday

“The Senate AMNESTY bill erases our borders. Every Senator took an oath to uphold our laws, including our border security & immigration laws. The Senators want to allow 5,000 illegal immigrants to walk across our border per day.”
— Representative Mary Miller, Republican of Illinois, in a social media post on Sunday

This is misleading. The legislation seeks to make it harder for people to claim asylum and expedite that process; expand federal detention capacity; and provide funding for other border investments, including hiring asylum officers and border security agents, among other things. It does not say that 5,000 immigrants are allowed to illegally enter per day.

Instead, the bill uses that number to help determine when a new, stringent emergency authority can take effect to more easily expel migrants, regardless of whether they intend to seek asylum.

“We already have more than 5,000 illegal crossings happening,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, a senior adviser for immigration and border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, wrote in an email. “We aren’t ‘allowing it’; it is happening, and we then have to deal with it.”

Under current law, migrants who cross the border illegally are allowed to seek asylum, setting off a lengthy process in which they await a decision.

Under the deal, the provision at the heart of Republicans’ claims would establish a mechanism in which officials would be required to effectively shut the border to migrants trying to illegally enter the United States and remove them en masse. The mechanism would be triggered after the number of encounters reached an average of 5,000 per day over a week — or 8,500 in a given day. Encounters would need to drop drastically before that shutdown is lifted. The bill would also give the secretary of homeland security the ability to carry out the same authority earlier, with an average of 4,000 encounters per day for a week.

This power would “allow for summary deportations of migrants and deny them the chance to apply for any way to stay in the U.S. other than very limited circumstances,” Ms. Brown said.

She likened the proposed authority to Title 42, a health rule that used the coronavirus as grounds for quickly turning back immigrants illegally crossing the border, from March 2020 until the policy ended in May.

In December, the Border Patrol reported more than 250,000 encounters — or a daily average of about 8,000 — according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Even before the proposed thresholds are met, migrants caught crossing the border illegally would still be taken into custody and processed, facing the prospect of deportation.

Experts pointed out that in light of the stricter border security measures in the compromise bill, the number of unauthorized crossings was likely to dip.

“The bill would not allow for the entry of 5,000 unauthorized immigrants a day,” Michelle Mittelstadt, a spokeswoman for the Migration Policy Institute, said in an email. “In fact, it would lead to reduced unauthorized entries because it mandates a higher bar to be considered for asylum and puts in place a swifter screening process with limits on review in case of denial, and there are increased capacities for detention and removal.”

She added, “With or without that 5,000 trigger, anyone intercepted crossing the border illegally would face a higher bar to consideration for asylum.”

Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who helped draft the bill, has also pushed back on claims it greenlit the illegal entry of 5,000 migrants a day.

“This authority is a 5,000 authority to say if you get to 5,000 — which we have been there every single day except for seven in the last four months — that it completely closes the border down, it deports everyone,” he said on Monday on Fox News.

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email [email protected].

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