American Civil Liberties Union: Biden’s new migrant ‘entry ban’ is illegal

Immigration advocates are outraged by the proposed rule, which they say would disqualify asylum seekers who do not seek protection in transit countries.

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The Biden administration is shutting the door on thousands of asylum seekers who show up on America’s doorstep after long and dangerous passages through other countries, immigration advocates say.

This is because the January 5 announcement of a new remote asylum application process for Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans includes a notice of proposed rulemaking declaring ineligible those who do not seek protection first in countries through which they traveled.

This is equivalent to the travel ban the Trump administration tried to enforce but was halted by the courts, advocates said in recent conversations with reporters.

“We applaud President Biden’s involvement in immigration, which opens up legal opportunities for 300,000 citizens of Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua,” said Vanessa Cardenas, America’s Voice chief executive. “(But) we are deeply concerned about other aspects of the Biden administration’s plan, most notably the upcoming rule that will make it harder for people to get asylum and will eventually become, for all practical purposes, an extension of the Trump-Stephen Miller deal. asylum ban.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project, said the group sued Trump over a previous ban on migrant transit and won.

“It is clear that you need an agreement with another country. In addition, there must be a demonstration in that other country where there will be a full and fair opportunity for asylum,” Gelernt said on Friday. “We don’t think what the Biden administration has said about the transit ban will make it legal. We believe this is still illegal and we will go to court immediately if the Biden administration passes legislation.”

Migrant advocates say the proposed federal rule is equivalent to a travel ban.

On Monday, a coalition of 165 faith-based organizations sent a letter to Biden and senior administration officials denouncing what they see as the asylum ban.

“We are writing with grave concern about the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will bring into force the ban on asylum in the form of a rule that bans people from asylum if they enter without screening or do not seek protection in countries of transit,” a letter signed groups, including the American Friends Service Committee and the National Council of Churches. “We urge you not to issue the NPRM and instead work vigorously to ensure that people seeking safety have access to a fair, dignified and efficient asylum process.”

Biden White House dismissed comparisons to Trump when it comes to humane immigration policy.

Cardenas said his supporters “applaud” some of Biden’s immigration policies and disagree with others.

“After an election season where Republican extremism has been a liability, it makes no sense for Democrats to emulate such a blatant example of Trump-Miller brutality,” she said. “Instead of erecting barriers to asylum, we must effectively process asylum applications, we must protect people and their procedural rights. We must invest in resettlement, establishing legal channels and addressing the reasons that really force people to move.”

In the El Paso, Texas-Juarez, Mexico corridor, many migrants have no other means than to travel by land, according to Dylan Corbett.

“We are still seeing the arrival of Venezuelans, we are still seeing the expulsion of vulnerable individuals with strong and credible asylum claims,” said Corbett, executive director of the Hope Frontiers Institute. “Juarez looks the same today as he did under the previous administration. […] Complicating things in El Paso is the significant number of non-procedurers, especially the Venezuelans who are now literally stuck in our community with no way to apply for asylum or normalize at all.”

Venezuelan migrant Carla Sainz, 26, who is eight months pregnant, helps her two-year-old son Joshua get dressed while camping near Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso, Texas on Sunday, January 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton) )

He was referring to migrants camped around the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in South El Paso and other residents of the city who fear being caught at highway checkpoints outside the city.

Corbett said he is still shocked at how far the Trump administration has “shifted targets” on immigration and refugees and hopes the Biden administration doesn’t go in that direction.

“The solution is not to implement a model whose measure of success is how many people we keep out, not how many people we can protect,” he said. “Two years in this administration, that’s exactly what this administration is sticking to.”

Rev. Mark Seitz, Catholic Bishop of El Paso, Texas, stands next to a portrait next to supplies and clothing at a migrant shelter on the territory of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, December 12. November 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Lekan Oyekanmi)

Corbett and other supporters continue to urge Biden to work with other leaders to address the root causes of migration.

He also urged the federal government to support human rights organizations that have stepped up when immigration services are overwhelmed and have begun releasing migrants on parole into the community.

“Border communities and non-governmental organizations know that we can do this when we have the resources and cooperation of the federal government. We know we can handle the challenges of the moment. This is what it means to be a country that supports human rights,” Corbett said.

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