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David Cohen

Democrats need to stand firm on foreign aid and immigration, Rep. Jayapal says

Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Sunday that Democrats need to stand their ground as Republicans look to condition foreign aid on changes in immigration policy.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jayapal (D-Wash.) said, “They are holding aid for Israel and Ukraine hostage to changes to the asylum system that would destroy the asylum system. Things that they could not get done through regular order. And I think we need to put our foot down and say, no.“

The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus added: “Vote on the aid package without those border policy changes. And recognize that some of the things that the Biden administration have been doing have really been working.“

New House Speaker Mike Johnson said last week that he expects Congress will be able to pass additional funding for Ukraine and Israel in the coming weeks, provided that border security issues are also addressed. Speaking Sunday directly before Jayapal, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pushed for Ukraine aid to be connected to immigration changes. “I will not vote for any aid until we secure our own border,” Graham said.

Republicans have said that changes in the system are needed to address the number of immigrants arriving at the Southern border, particularly the parole system, which allows the temporary release of some immigrants into the United States. They also want to change U.S. policy on applying for asylum, a safeguard which is supposed to be for those who are either facing persecution in their native land or have a reasonable expectation that they will face persecution.

Jayapal saw something more sinister than mere reform at work.

“This is not about addressing the border," she said. "This is about destroying the immigration system, something they have not been able to do through regular order. So they want to try and trade destruction of the asylum system for aid for Ukraine. That’s just outrageous. We should say 'no,' and force them to vote against this critical aid if that's where they want to be."

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