WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is launching a proposed rule that for two years would prevent migrants from applying for asylum at the southern border if they have not first applied for protection in a country they have passed through.
The administration is seeking to limit asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border as a pandemic-era immigration measure is expected to wrap up this summer. But the policy shift brought immediate criticism from immigration advocates and Democrats in Congress.
The proposal, which will be officially posted in the Federal Register on Thursday, is reminiscent of Trump-era immigration policies, critics said.
In its proposal, the Department of Homeland Security said large numbers of migrants at the southern border would “stretch already limited resources; risk overcrowding at already crowded U.S. Border Patrol stations and border ports of entry in ways that pose significant 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 northward movements”.
For a migrant to apply for asylum in the United States, they would first need to make an appointment at a U.S. port of entry and apply for a legal route into the country they passed through.
The rule would apply to single adults and asylum-seeking families, but there would be an exception for unaccompanied children and adolescents.
There are also exceptions for asylum seekers who are facing an imminent threat to their life or have a medical emergency.
However, those asylum-seekers who “do not demonstrate a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in the country of transfer will be promptly removed,” according to a DHS fact sheet.
And those asylum-seekers who are ordered removed would be subject to a five-year ban from applying for asylum and would be ineligible to apply for other probation programs available to those citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“We are strengthening the availability of legal and orderly pathways for migrants to arrive in the United States, while proposing new consequences for those who do not use the processes made available to them by the United States and its regional partners,” said the US Department of Human Rights. United States. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement.
Immigration advocates and Democrats rejected the announcement and called on the Biden administration to reconsider the proposed rule.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Biden administration’s proposal to limit access to asylum,” senior House Judiciary Committee member Jerrold Nadler of New York and a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Judiciary said in a joint statement. integrity, security and immigration enforcement Pramila Jayapal of Washington.
“We shouldn’t be limiting the legal pathways into the United States, we should be expanding them,” they said.
Nadler and Jayapal argued that the asylum law is protected by federal law and that this new proposal violates that protection.
The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey, called the proposed rule a driving ban.
Menendez, along with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Alex Padilla of California, released a joint statement, saying the Biden administration’s proposed rule “only perpetuates the harmful myth that asylum seekers are a threat to this nation”.
“We have an obligation to protect vulnerable migrants under national and international law and we should not leave vulnerable migrants stranded in countries unable to protect them,” they said. “We urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to reverse course and open a better path that protects the right to asylum while addressing the real operational challenges at our southern border.”
Immigration advocates have made similar observations.
“It is deeply disappointing to see the Biden administration launder the Trump administration’s immigration policies that inflict harm on those seeking safety,” said Efrén C. Olivares, deputy legal director for immigrant justice at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Trump-era policy barred migrants from seeking asylum in the United States if they lived in or traveled through other countries before coming to the United States. The policy was overturned by the federal courts.
Public comment on the Biden administration’s proposed new rule will be open for 30 days after it is posted to the Federal Register. The administration said the proposal is in “anticipation of a potential wave of migration on the Southwest border” once Title 42 ends on May 11.
Title 42 is a public health policy that allows the United States to deport any non-citizen during a health crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the Trump administration adopted the policy in March 2020, more than 2 million asylum seekers have been expelled under Title 42. The Biden administration is moving to end the public health emergency on May 11, which will also put an end to politics.