On April 18, 2023, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) released recommendations for managing migration and refugees in the Western Hemisphere. The Menendez Plan, which includes measures to address U.S. labor shortages and expand access to H-2 visas, emphasizes executive actions President Biden could take to circumvent gridlock in Congress. 

Sen. Menendez said the United States’ current approach “is enforcement-driven, reactive, and overly focused on punitive policies to deter migrants once they arrive at our borders; however, the region’s challenges require a comprehensive U.S. approach that recognizes individual country conditions that drive irregular migration.” He proposed a four-pillar strategy: 

  1. Create new legal pathways and expand existing pathways to reduce pressure at the southwestern border. Sen. Menendez proposes various measures, such as creating a parole program for individuals who can fill positions facing a labor shortage as determined by the governors of U.S. states, both for people migrating to the United States and undocumented individuals already in the country; working with Congress to make new visas available to address U.S. labor shortages; expanding access to H-2 visas in Latin America and the Caribbean and enhancing labor protections in the United States, along with employer outreach related to these visas.
  2. Increase resources at the border to process asylum seekers and remove people without legal claims to stay in the United States. 
  3. Expand humanitarian assistance and develop financing to better integrate migrants and refugees in countries across the Americas.
  4. Elevate efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations involved in human trafficking and smuggling.

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