The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency has reiterated that seeking asylum “is a fundamental human right” in its response expressing concern over recent proposals from the Biden administration that would further clamp down on the U.S. asylum system. The agency has repeatedly criticized restrictionist and harmful U.S. immigration policy throughout recent years.
“Plans by the Biden administration to expand restrictions on people seeking refuge in the United States are ‘not in line with refugee law standards’, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday,” an agency release said.
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Under the proposed polices, the the Biden administration would expand the debunked Title 42 public health order, as well implement a version of the Trump-era transit ban by struck down by the courts in 2020. While the proposal does include positively received plans to widen parole applications for tens of thousands of migrants per month, the restrictionist portions of the plan would disregard our legal obligations to other vulnerable people under international law, advocates said.
While the U.N. release said that it was still continuing due seek “additional details” into the Biden administration’s “multi-faceted” announcement, “the agency raised its concern” over the expansion of the debunked Title 42 order. The Supreme Court's right-wing justices blocked the Biden administration's plan to lift the policy last month. But officials then expanded the policy on their own.
The release said that the agency welcomed the news that 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans monthly will be allowed to apply for parole monthly. Mirroring an initiative last year benefitting Venezuelan migrants, applicants must have U.S. sponsors and be able to fly themselves to the U.S. The U.N. release said it welcomed “expanded safe and regular pathways for entry,” but that “must not preclude people forced to flee from exercising their fundamental human right to seek safety”. Migrants who arrive to the border in a manner not under the parole program will be expelled to Mexico under the expanded Title 42 order.
“Under laws that grew out of World War II and the Cold War, asylum applicants must prove they face persecution at home under limited criteria such as race, political opinion or religious belief, without regard to financial status,” the Associated Press reported. The previous administration attempted to make the U.S. one of the handful of the nations in the world that would charge an asylum fee, but that was thankfully thrown out by the courts.
“UNHCR remains concerned about the already precarious situation of thousands of people on the move in the Americas,” the agency further tweeted. “Their rights need to be upheld.” The Biden administration’s proposed version of the so-called transit ban must first be opened up to public comment for a period of 60 days, during which anyone may comment in approval or disapproval.
“Limited access to humanitarian parole cannot be a replacement for asylum protections guaranteed in U.S. and international law,” Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) president Krish O’Mara Vignarajah said in a statement shared by Border Report. “It will provide only temporary protection to a small subset of the millions of people forced to flee their homes.”
CBS News reported that angered lawmakers “voiced frustration” regarding the restrictions during a meeting with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, including pressing him on how the new policy proposed by the Biden administration was really any different than the policy proposed by the previous administration. One lawmaker reportedly noted that then-candidate Joe Biden condemned the previous administration’s anti-asylum hostilities.
In response to ongoing backlash, the administration released a “fact sheet” on its proposal. But experts slammed that as well, saying the administration was issuing “half-truths and misrepresentations to respond to legitimate criticisms of its extremist border policies.” The first “myth” listed is the administration is expanding Title 42 “when it doesn’t have to.” But the “fact” in response doesn’t even answer that, only saying officials are required to continue the policy under court order. That’s true. But the expansion remains the administration’s own doing.
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