Some advocates welcomed news that the Biden administration will allow tens of thousands of Cuban, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Haitian migrants to apply for a new parole program. But the harsh enforcement measures making up the rest of the changes—including one proposal resembling the previous administrations’ so-called transit ban, which was thrown out by a judge in 2020—have been universally condemned.
In one joint statement, a group of Democratic senators said they were “pleased to see an increase in the access of parole” for certain migrants. But Alex Padilla, Bob Menendez, Ben Ray Luján, and Cory Booker said the expansion of the debunked Title 42 public health order will continue to “increase border crossings over time and further enrich human smuggling networks,” and that the proposed transit ban will “disregard our obligations under international law.”
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CBS News reports that angered lawmakers also “voiced frustration” during a meeting with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, including pressing the top official on how the new policy proposed by the Biden administration was really any different than the policy proposed by the previous administration.
The experts at American Immigration Council said the Biden administration’s “proposed transit ban rule would bar asylum for any person who had not previously applied for asylum in a third country before reaching the United States, as well as those who sought asylum without going through a new process at a port of entry. ” The organization said a version of this policy by the previous administration was thrown out by a judge appointed by that very administration back in 2020.
“That proposal was one of the top concerns members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus raised during the briefing with Mayorkas and other Biden administration officials,” CBS News reported.
CBS News said that one lawmaker also pressed how changes announced this week—including an expansion to the debunked Title 42 policy—“squared” with criticisms from then-candidate Joe Biden’s about the previous administration’s anti-asylum hostilities. While the Supreme Court's right-wing justices blocked the Biden administration's plan to lift Title 42 last month, it was not under order to expand it. That expansion was the Biden administration’s own decision. There’s also the need to continue repeating that Title 42 hasn’t worked. In fact, experts have said it actually increased apprehensions at the border. It’s a failed policy that no one’s even pretending is about public health anymore.
Statement after statement Thursday and Friday urged the Biden administration to reverse course. In its statement, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) said it “strongly and unequivocally” opposed the changes. Policy Director Sunil Varghese called the restrictions politically motivated.
“President Biden and his administration are now actively pursuing discredited Trump policies like Title 42 and an asylum ban in an attempt to score political points at the border,” Varghese said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “Opening up new limited pathways for a small percentage of people does not obscure the fact that the Biden administration is illegally and immorally gutting access to humanitarian protections for the majority of people who have already fled their country seeking freedom and safety. The administration must reverse course immediately.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in a tweet that “[i]nstead of restoring fair access to asylum, this plan further limits it.”
”There’s no reason for the Biden administration to expand Title 42 while claiming to prepare for its end. People seeking safety from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti are now at an increased risk of immediate expulsions at the border, threatening their safety.” While the Biden administration’s plan would allow 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans to ask for protections at the southern border per month, the remaining migrants will be subject to the debunked Title 42 policy and expelled to Mexico. Human Rights First has been among leading organizations documenting the abuses asylum-seekers have faced after being expelled from the U.S.
“Access to asylum is a life-saving legal right—restricting it runs contrary to our laws and the Biden administration's promises,” the ACLU continued. “It’s long past time to uphold our commitments to people seeking safety, not double down on inhumane anti-immigrant policies.”
“This announcement does not bring closer to restoring our broken immigration system,” Haitian Bridge Alliance executive director Guerline Jozef said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “The right for all—regardless of national origin—to seek asylum should be fully restored. The creation of the parole program should not have come at the expense of barring others from exercising their rights to asylum.” Jozef, a leading advocate for Haitians abused by the our immigration system, said the group was “extremely concerned” the current administration is picking up the previous administration’s anti-asylum baton.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) president said it was “the unavoidable truth” that the Biden administration was eroding our nation’s legal commitment to asylum-seekers.
“Moreover, the administration indicated a new proposed rule that sounds like another Trump policy, the transit ban, which will block asylum by requiring people to first apply in countries that they traveled through,” Jeremy McKinney said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “The new parole program should be implemented in addition to access to asylum at the southern border and not erode access to asylum.” In its announcement Thursday, the Biden administration said its proposed rule will open for a period of public comment, at which point anyone has the ability to express approval or disapproval of changes.
“We call on President Biden and the administration to reverse court and not to continue down this pathway with this proposed rule,” FWD.us President Todd Schulte said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “Instead, they should dedicate their efforts, time, and resources to the considerable task of building new safe and legal pathways, and strengthening and expanding their use of existing avenues for people to come to the U.S. for refuge, to work, to study, and to be reunited with their families.”
Supreme Court bars Biden administration from ending Title 42's anti-asylum policies yet again
Citing 'moral and legal responsibility,' lawmakers urge Biden admin to reconsider Title 42 expansion