Bipartisan bill from South Texas lawmakers would hire judges, speed asylum process amid surge

Border Patrol officers process asylum seekers at a Texas station earlier this year. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Border Patrol officers process asylum seekers at a Texas station earlier this year.
In a rare sign of Washington bipartisanship, two members of San Antonio's congressional delegation are partnering with one of Texas' senators on a proposal to deal with the recent surge in border crossings.

During a virtual press event Tuesday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; and U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, unveiled a proposal that would create new processing sites for asylum seekers and expedite their hearings.

The trio's Bipartisan Border Solutions Act would create four new regional processing centers that the Border Patrol could use during surges such as the current one and similar upswings recorded in 2014 and 2019.

The bill also would allow the government to hire at least 150 new immigration judges to expedite asylum claims. Currently, federal immigration courts have such a backlog that cases remain pending for years.

"We've got to have a sense of urgency about this," said Cuellar, whose district also includes San Antonio. Cuellar has repeatedly urged the Biden White House to deal more aggressively with the current rise in border crossings.

As part of its effort to handle the influx in asylum seekers, the administration opened a temporary shelter at San Antonio's Freeman Coliseum that can house up to 2,400 unaccompanied minors.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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