HomePoliticsBiden's proposed asylum rules are a misguided attempt to deter migrants

Biden’s proposed asylum rules are a misguided attempt to deter migrants

In this July 17, 2019 file photo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at International Bridge 1 in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, check the documents of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. (Associated Press)

That of the Biden administration proposed rules for migrants seeking asylum would seriously discourage people fleeing devastated countries from seeking protection in the United States. The rules would limit who can apply for asylum by imposing tough requirements that would limit eligibility at a time of historic global migration.

It is a misguided, inhumane attempt to deter migrants from arriving at the US-Mexico border, making it more difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to exercise their right to appear at the border and request refuge .

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice last week issued the guidelines ahead of the possible end to the use of Title 42, a Trump-era public health order that allows U.S. border officials to deport most migrants seeking asylum. The COVID-19 public health order ends May 11, and with it possibly the Title 42-based policy, which cited the threat of the coronavirus as a basis for denying entry to migrants. Biden attempted to end that policy but was prevented from doing so, mainly due to legal challenges by Republicans.

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The government’s proposed rules would require migrants to first seek asylum in another country while en route to the United States, or make an appointment through the CBOne appa US government app was having problems. (It requires an appointment for each person, which makes it difficult for families, who then have to decide whether to split up or wait indefinitely until they have a place for each family member.) Migrants who don’t meet the conditions end up not eligible to apply for asylum in the U.S. The only exception would be for migrants who can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, such as a medical emergency or extreme and imminent threat to their life or safety, such as an imminent threat of rape, kidnapping, torture, or murder. The guidelines are impractical for people fleeing persecution and effectively remove legal avenues for seeking asylum.

The rules proposed by the Biden administration would confuse one inhumane policy with another despite the president’s promise to create a more orderly asylum process that does not cause unnecessary human suffering. The United States must control entry at its borders, but it must be done humanely.

Under international law, people have the right to seek asylum if they fear persecution or harm in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group. The whole process of applying for asylum is rigorous and approval can take years due to overdue immigration courts. In 2022, US authorities granted less than 14% of asylum applications. Those who do not qualify for asylum may be deported.

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The challenge for US officials is to find a way to deal with an unprecedented number of migrants seeking asylum due to increasing political and economic instability, particularly in undemocratic countries such as Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua. Volatile conditions in those countries have driven migrants from their homes, accounting for a large portion of the historic 2.2 million Border Patrol encounters, defined as detentions or evictions, along the US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022. By comparison, Border Patrol had about 1.2 million encounters per year from fiscal years 1983 to 2006. These numbers fell significantly between 2011-2018 to less than 400,000 encounters, in part because U.S. authorities increased border security.

Biden’s difficulty in dealing with security on the US-Mexico border has certainly been exacerbated by the wave of migrants. He inherited an immigration system hampered by harsh policies enacted during the Trump presidency that effectively closed the door on most asylum seekers and separated migrant children from their parents upon arrival in the United States, including Title 42. But he embraces now a similar strategy of fitness limitation with the proposed asylum rules. It’s a plan that largely replicates one asylum ban imposed by the Trump administration that was struck down by the courts.

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Biden officials perverse quote the new rules, which would take effect after a 30-day period of public comment and expire after two years, as a form of deterrence, noting that border patrol detentions eased once migrants were told that Title 42 of power was. They say this policy protects migrants by removing the incentive to travel to the United States, but this reasoning ignores the fact that migrants will continue to make nearly impossible attempts to find safe shelter and employment.

Biden is under intense political pressure to deal effectively with the historic number of migrants at the border. Ultimately, it’s up to Congress to pass legislation to overhaul an overcrowded, inefficient immigration system. Meanwhile, he can help create a more orderly system for processing asylum seekers by expanding the capacity of border authorities to deal with arriving migrants and immigration courts to handle cases quickly. That would be a more humane way of meeting the country’s legal obligation to asylum seekers than summarily deporting them or refusing to hear their case.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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