Biden pushes for controversial changes in immigration policy

President Joe Biden announced in recent days a new immigration provision, which provides that anyone who has entered the country illegally will not be able to request asylum. Pursuant to the new rule, anyone who has not requested protection from another country on their way to the United States, or who has not notified the border agents of their planes to request asylum, may also be deported immediately, through the CPB One, the application developed by that force.

The measure, which will enter into force on May 11, is just one of several changes to the immigration process that is applied on the border between the United States and Mexico that, experts agree, until now, no administration has ever achieved solutions. viable for the situation.

According to Denise Gilman, co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School, there is currently no crisis at the border, just dramatized rhetoric in discussing immigration. Because she remembers that, although it is true that there are a large number of migrants waiting to enter the country, almost all of them seek asylum, which indicates a low level of threat.

Gilman points out that the numbers are comparable to other periods in history. According to data from the Pew Research Center, border patrols reported 1,659,206 encounters with migrants at the US-Mexico border in 2021, compared to 1,643,679 encounters in 2000.

The specialist explains that the data does not reflect reality well, since they do not discriminate when the same migrant tries to cross the border several times, which has occurred since the implementation of Title 42 that began during the government of Donald Trump. This sanitary measure was used by the Republican administration to deny asylum to people in a position to receive it who had already crossed the border, arguing the risk derived from the covid. According to data from Customs and Border Control, Title 42 allowed the expulsion of more than two million people since 2020. It will now be eliminated in May, but experts doubt the effectiveness of the rule that will replace it, which will allow the deportation of anyone who has not requested asylum in another country en route to the United States.

For the professor and director of the Center for United States-Mexico Studies at the University of California at San Diego, Rafael Fernández de Castro, the new rule seems like a good measure, but he warns that it could lead to greater abuse by coyotes, that many times they take advantage of the “good will of Washington”, according to Castro, to tell people that it is time to immigrate.

“The issue is very polarized and probably Biden’s great electoral Achilles heel has been precisely trying to be more humane with migration. That has cost him because the Republicans interpret it as weakness and that is why they say that we need ‘Mr. Wall,’ and the man of the border wall is Trump,” Castro explained. “But we must remember that Trump could not contain the migrants with harsh measures, including the separation of children from their families. What really allowed him to close the border was the covid.

Aaron Nodjomian-Escajeda, an analyst with the Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, disagrees with the new measure. He recalls that US law allows individuals to apply for asylum no matter how they entered the country, be it by car, boat, plane, or whatever. Nodjomian-Escajeda believes that the new rule will severely limit the possibility of certain groups to be able to access asylum.

“I believe that the Biden administration is trying to respond to the lack of Congress to pass legislation to address the holes in the immigration system. But this is not the way to do it, because it will only harm the most vulnerable people, since it only impacts people coming through the southern border,” she says.

“If someone enters through an airport from Canada, or by sea in the Gulf of Mexico, it was not achieved by this measure. That is why we see that this is going to have a disproportionate impact on individuals who enter the border, fleeing crisis and persecution.”

Background. The one that will take effect in May is not the first measure in recent years that has been criticized for complicating the immigration process. So was the “Stay in Mexico” policy, another of Trump’s initiatives, which forced migrants seeking asylum to stay in Mexico until they were summoned for their hearing on their asylum request in the United States. That program was phased out in 2022, people are no longer prosecuted under it, but the damage is longer lasting.

“There are people who were subject to that program and then obtained a deportation order. And now they are stuck in the United States or still in Mexico, even though they have viable asylum claims that could have been handled very differently if it weren’t for Remain in Mexico,” Gilman explains.

At the border, the University of Texas professor reveals, there is a lot of instability and uncertainty due to the new laws that are being implemented and those that are being annulled by the Trump administration. That’s the biggest challenge, warn. “If you’re constantly changing the law, then it’s hard for lawyers and nonprofit organizations to help the system work efficiently and support refugees at the border.”

Even with all the legislative complications, Nodjomian-Escajeda has not felt a strain on the resources of the Committee for Refugees and Immigrants thanks to the support of this administration, which compared to its predecessor, is putting more funds into the refugee resettlement process and in the different resettlement programs.

“On top of that, we’ve seen a lot of generous donations from the public and other people who are private citizens,” says Nodjomian-Escajeda, referring to donations that were made in response to the crisis in Afghanistan and Ukraine, but also explaining that aid is received in Mexico office. What the government needs, to stress, is to allow newcomers to receive greater protection.

“The Democrats, instead of taking back the Republican narrative, have taken some steps to prevent political damage that didn’t really address the real issues and blocked asylum claims. More resources are needed to properly process each order,” concludes Gilman.

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