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:
- 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.
- Increase resources at the border to process asylum seekers and remove people without legal claims to stay in the United States.
- Expand humanitarian assistance and develop financing to better integrate migrants and refugees in countries across the Americas.
- Elevate efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations involved in human trafficking and smuggling.