Biden Restricts Asylum Access After Vowing to Reverse Trump Immigration Policies

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MEXICO-US-MIGRATION - Credit: Herika Martinez/ AFP/Getty Images
MEXICO-US-MIGRATION - Credit: Herika Martinez/ AFP/Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Tuesday a new proposal that could block tens of thousands of people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from claiming asylum.

The 153-page proposed regulation is the most restrictive policy yet by the president’s administration to bar unauthorized crossings and echoes Trump-era immigration policies. Although there are some exceptions, the proposed rule presumes that migrants are ineligible for asylum if they entered the U.S. unlawfully. Among the new rules being considered is the introduction of a fast-track deportation process known as “expedited removal.” Migrants who do not schedule an appointment at a U.S. border port of entry or request protection from another country while traveling to the United States would be at risk for this rapid deportation.

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The measure has been opened for 30 days of public comment before being reviewed for final publication. The policy would take effect May 11 in “anticipation of a potential surge of migration at the southwest border” following the expiration of Title 42, the rule implemented during the Trump administration that used the pandemic as justification to deport asylum seekers without a hearing. The new policy would then remain for two years.

Although President Joe Biden campaigned on promises to erase the imprint Donald Trump left on the U.S. immigration system, many say that they have yet to see any real change.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the ACLU, which sued the Trump administration over Title 42, was hopeful that, when the new administration came in, the ACLU might be able to drop their lawsuit against the government. “We expected the Biden administration to get rid of the worst of the Trump-era asylum practices, the most extreme of which was the Title 42 policy,” Gelernt told Rolling Stone the year Biden was sworn in. But after six months of negotiations with the Biden administration, it became clear they weren’t getting anywhere. And in 2021, when a federal court told the government it must suspend the Trump-era policy, Biden administration lawyers vowed to appeal the decision.

The Biden administration ’s proposed rule would send asylum seekers back to danger, separate families, and cost lives, as human rights advocates have been asserting for weeks,” Jane Bentrott, counsel at Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights nonprofit, told the New York Times.

“It is in direct contravention of President Biden’s campaign promises to reverse Trump’s racist, xenophobic immigration policies, and give all folks seeking safety a fair shot at asylum,” she added.

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