News » San Antonio News

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.

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.