Orderly Requirements Designed to Enforce and Regulate Latin American Migration (ORDER) Act, or H.R. 1690, is a bill that would authorize the Secretary of State to negotiate regional immigration agreements under specific conditions. The bill was introduced by Representative Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas) on March 22, 2023.
The ORDER Act would:
- Authorize the Secretary of State to negotiate agreements, accords, and memoranda of understanding with Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other countries in the Western Hemisphere to facilitate a regional approach to immigration enforcement by expediting asylum claims and the processing, detention, and repatriation of unauthorized migrants seeking to enter the United States.
- The bill suggests that such agreements should require that:
- Mexico rapidly admits nationals of other countries seeking asylum in Mexico and process their asylum claims.
- Mexico rapidly admits nationals of other countries who are ineligible for asylum in Mexico and wish to apply for asylum in the United States and allows them to remain in Mexico during the adjudication of their asylum claim in the United States.
- Mexico provides admitted nationals of other countries with appropriate humanitarian protections.
- Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala admit nationals of other countries seeking asylum in their respective countries and process their asylum claims.
- The United States works to accelerate asylum claim adjudications and conclude removal proceedings as expeditiously as possible.
- The United States assists countries in the Western Hemisphere in enhancing their asylum capacity.
H.R. 1690 would further require that the Secretary of State brief the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary on their negotiation efforts at least every 90 days. In addition, the Secretary of State would need to conduct a feasibility study on the opening of a multi-purpose United States International Law Enforcement Center in southern Mexico, which would assist with efforts to combat transnational organized crime and drug trafficking organizations.
The Secretary of State already has the plenipotentiary authority to negotiate international agreements with other countries on behalf of the U.S. government. Therefore, this bill would only create an advisory roadmap for the consideration of the Department of State when negotiating immigration-related agreements. The bill would not require the Secretary of State to include the provisions of the bill in any given treaty. However, if the Department of State engages in negotiations as prescribed by the bill, the Secretary would be required to provide periodic updates and conduct a study on the feasibility of opening an American law enforcement center in Mexico.
This bill responds to the concerns of many lawmakers about the increased border crossings in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 and the expected increase in migration following the upcoming termination of Title 42 on May 11, 2023. The number of undocumented crossings at the border reached a new record in FY 2022 with over 2.76 million apprehensions. This spike in apprehensions was largely a result of asylum seekers fleeing Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Haiti. Nevertheless, unauthorized border crossings are at a two-month low following the implementation of the new border policies that allow up to 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries to apply to come to the United States under parole.
The bill is also a response to the Biden administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking, which would severely restrict U.S. asylum eligibility for most migrants crossing the U.S.’s southwest border. Among its provisions, the proposed rule would create a presumption of asylum ineligibility — with limited exceptions — for migrants who travel through a third country unless they apply for and are denied asylum before reaching the United States. Therefore, the cooperation of Western Hemisphere countries is essential for the implementation of the rule.
The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Leighton Fernando G. Cook, policy intern, for his extensive contributions to this bill summary.