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On Wednesday, October 20th, Axios politics reporter Stef Kight explored the status of bipartisan immigration reform and refugee resettlement policy, featuring Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Welcome.US CEO Nazanin Ash and Welcome.US co-founder and former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama Cecilia Muñoz.

Robert Menendez spoke on the current compromises being discussed surrounding immigration reform in the latest reconciliation package, and the most viable ways to pass bipartisan immigration legislation moving forward.

  • On the obstacles to passing bipartisan immigration reform: “I truly believe that reconciliation is the only pathway...toward some type of status for undocumented immigrants in the country, and without reconciliation and without Republican support in an evenly divided Senate, I don’t see how that pathway would be possible.”
  • On disparities in how the US is receiving Afghan versus Haitian refugees: “I have taken a very clear position that a refugee is a refugee and you need to give them the opportunity to make their case under our asylum laws. It should not differentiate between an Afghan or a Haitian.”

Nazanin Ash and Cecilia Muñoz described how Americans are helping refugees from Afghanistan settle into new lives and outlined the challenges that many refugees face upon their arrival.

  • Nazanin Ash on the challenges for refugees coming to America: “I think the two biggest challenges are housing and staffing, everything from making sure that refugees get a warm welcome at the airport, making sure that their apartments are set up...making sure that there is someone to help them navigate a very new environment.”
  • Cecilia Muñoz on the importance of refugee resettlement efforts: “This is who we are as Americans. This is what we do when we’re at our best, and we benefit enormously from these kinds of acts of generosity.”

Thank you Carnegie Corporation of New York for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Pentagon: About half of Afghan evacuees at U.S. bases are children

U.S. Navy soldiers helping evacuate Afghans. Photo: Cristina Quicler/AFP via Getty Images

Roughly half of the Afghan refugees housed temporarily at U.S. military bases are children under the age of 18, according to a letter from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Sen. James Inhofe obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: This is among the many challenges when it comes to the government's Afghan resettlement effort.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

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