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With the border bill dead, here's where immigration reforms stands

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Where do we go from here? That's the question many are asking after a wild week in Washington. A bipartisan bill on immigration legislation could have been a major shift in U.S. border policy, but it fizzled almost immediately in a divided Senate. Joining us to discuss what is next is NPR immigration correspondent Jasmine Garsd. Hi there.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Hi.

SHAPIRO: Does the end of this bill mean nothing will change on immigration?

GARSD: Yes and no. I definitely think there's a sense that on the legislative side, nothing can change, not with this level of political polarization. But the flow of people trying to reach the southern border, that continues. People coming from Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East - that's not stopping just because Congress did.

SHAPIRO: And why does this keep happening?

GARSD: Well, look. The U.N. has said that last year there was a record rise in displaced people around the world. That's obvious at the border. I've met folks fleeing from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, escaping repression in Turkey, government persecution in Venezuela and a lot of people who are simply leaving collapsed economies. There also is a lot of misinformation. I constantly talk to migrants on the border who have been told that once they get to the U.S., they're going to be allowed to stay, legally, permanently if they ask for asylum. But getting asylum in the U.S. is difficult. It can be expensive, and there's a massive backlog. Only about half the cases that reached a decision last year got granted asylum.

SHAPIRO: The bill that died in the Senate, a lot of it was focused on border enforcement. So with that gone, what's enforcement going to look like going forward?

GARSD: The Biden administration has ramped up deportations. Also, the Mexican National Guard is increasingly stopping migrants coming north to the U.S.

SHAPIRO: But this issue also extends way beyond the border. Migrants have been sent all over the country.

GARSD: Absolutely. I mean, New York City alone has received around - over 170,000 migrants in the last two years, and city government says it can't afford it. Now, while cities like Chicago, New York and Denver are struggling to manage that influx, you have parts of the Rust Belt, like Erie and Pittsburgh, for example, where there's a pretty severe labor shortage. And some politicians and business leaders are wondering, where is the immigrant labor? So last week Fed chair Jerome Powell went on CBS's "60 Minutes," and he talked about labor and immigration.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "60 MINUTES")

JEROME POWELL: I will say, over time, though, the U.S. economy has benefited from immigration. And frankly, just in the last year, a big part of the story of the labor market coming back into better balance is immigration returning to levels that were more typical of the pre-pandemic era.

GARSD: So the border bill that died this week, one thing that got missed in all the drama surrounding it was that it would have expedited work permits for asylum-seekers, something which a lot of cities and business leaders have been asking for.

SHAPIRO: Well, if there's not likely to be any more action in Congress, what is next?

GARSD: Well, again, there's Texas. Texas is still in a standoff with the federal government about who gets to enforce immigration law at the border and how. Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently said that he is going to keep busing migrants to cities like New York and Chicago. And the Biden administration has said it needs Congress to pass legislation in order to ramp up border enforcement.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Jasmine Garsd. Thank you.

GARSD: Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF 9TH WONDER SONG, "SEASON COURAGE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Jasmine Garsd
Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.