Biden administration proposes serious new restrictions on asylum at the border
WASHINGTON. The Biden administration is implementing a proposed rule that would bar migrants from applying for asylum at the southern border for two years unless they first asked for protection in the country they traveled through.
The administration is aiming to limit asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border as the pandemic-era immigration measure is due to end this summer. But the policy change drew immediate criticism from immigration advocates and Democrats in Congress.
The proposal, which will be officially published in the Federal Register on Thursday, is reminiscent of Trump-era immigration policy, critics say.
In its proposal, the Department of Homeland Security said that the large number of migrants on the southern border “would put an enormous strain on already depleted resources; the risk of overcrowding already overcrowded U.S. Border Patrol (“USBP”) stations and border entry points in a manner that poses serious health and safety concerns; and create a situation in which large numbers of migrants – only a small fraction of whom are likely to be granted asylum – are subjected to extreme exploitation by the networks that support their movement north.”
In order for a migrant to apply for asylum in the US, they must first make an appointment at a US port of entry and apply for legal passage in the country through which they traveled.
The rule will apply to single adults and families seeking asylum, but there will be an exception for unaccompanied children and teenagers.
There are also exceptions for asylum seekers who face immediate threat to their lives or who require emergency medical care.
However, those asylum seekers who “do not substantiate a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in the country of deportation will be expelled immediately,” according to a DHS fact sheet.
Five year ban
Asylum seekers who have been ordered to be expelled will be denied the right to seek asylum for five years and will not be eligible to apply for other parole programs available to citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“We are increasing the availability of legal and orderly pathways for migrants to the United States, while offering new implications for those who do not use the processes provided to them by the United States and its regional partners,” the US Department said. This is stated in a statement by the Minister of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mallorcas.
Immigration advocates and Democrats rejected the announcement and asked the Biden administration to reconsider the proposed rule.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Biden administration’s proposal to limit access to asylum,” New York-based senior House Judiciary Committee member Jerrold Nadler and Washington-based Pramila Jayapal, senior member of the Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee, said in a joint statement.
“We must not restrict legal entry into the United States, we must expand them,” they said.
Nadler and Jayapal argued that asylum law was protected by federal law and that this new proposal violated that protection.
Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the proposed rule a transit ban.
Menendez, along with Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, and Alex Padilla of California, issued a joint statement saying the Biden administration’s proposed rule “only perpetuates the harmful myth that asylum seekers pose a threat to it.” nation”.
“We have an obligation to protect vulnerable migrants in accordance with domestic and international law and must not leave vulnerable migrants stranded in countries that are unable to protect them,” they said. “We call on President Biden and Secretary of State Majorcas to change course and forge a better path forward that will protect the right to asylum and address the real operational challenges on our southern border.”
Immigration advocates made similar remarks.
“It’s very disappointing that the Biden administration is reworking the Trump administration’s immigration policies that harm those who seek security,” said Efren S. Olivares, deputy legal director for immigration justice at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Trump-era policy prohibited migrants from seeking asylum in the US if they had lived in or traveled through other countries prior to coming to the US. The policy was rejected by federal courts.
Public comment on the new rule proposed by the Biden administration will be open within 30 days of its publication in the Federal Register. The administration said the offer was made “in anticipation of a potential surge in migration at the southwestern border” when Section 42 expires May 11.
Section 42 is a public health policy that allows the US to expel any non-citizen during a public health crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the Trump administration introduced the policy in March 2020, more than 2 million Section 42 asylum seekers have been expelled under Section 42. The Biden administration is set to lift the public health emergency on May 11, which will also end the policy.
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