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Biden's New Migrant Asylum Policy Is His Most Restrictive Measure

As the White House gears up for the end of a Trump-era border policy this spring, it has its sights set on resurrecting a version of another much-maligned immigration program from the previous administration, Politico reports. The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice on Tuesday announced a proposed rule to bar some migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they cross the border illegally or fail first to apply for safe harbor in another country. The rule was previewed by President Biden in January. After 30-day public comment period, it will be implemented on the May 11 end of the COVID public health emergency. May 11 is also the end date of the Title 42 public health order currently being used to bar entry to most migrants at the southern border. The rule announced on Tuesday would stay in place for two years after its effective date. The new proposal — which immigrant advocates refer to as the “transit ban” or the “asylum ban” — is the White House’s most restrictive border control measure to date and will serve as its policy solution to the long-awaited end of Title 42. Within minutes of its posting, the Biden administration faced a flood of backlash from immigrant advocates and Democrats who accused officials of perpetuating the Trump approach to border politics that Biden pledged on the campaign trail to end.

Threats of lawsuits began to percolate.Former Biden White House official Andrea Flores, who now serves as chief counsel for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), condemned the administration for resurrecting a policy that “normalizes the white nationalist belief that asylum seekers from certain countries are less deserving of humanitarian protections.” Administration officials rejected the notion that the proposed regulation was like the Trump transit ban, noting it was not a “categorical ban” on asylum seekers. Instead, they said, the administration had expanded “existing lawful pathways” through the parole programs, and that the measures were not intended to curb people from seeking asylum but to help ensure order at the southern border. The Biden administration has repeatedly warned of an influx of migrants amid the end of Title 42, which has been used more than two million times to expel asylum seekers on public health grounds. Administration officials said the new rule will help the administration manage a bogged-down border and asylum processing system. For critics, those utterances and the implementation of the new rule underscored the degree to which the administration continues to see the southern border as a political issue, and not a humanitarian challenge, facing Biden’s presidency.


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