Biden’s “cruel” asylum policy censured

August 14, 2021 - 20:31

U.S President, Joe Biden, strongly condemned his Republican predecessor, President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, but is now defending them in courts. Immigration attorneys and activists are also frustrated with the slow pace of the current administration’s Justice Department in tackling the Trump-era immigration policy.

During the election campaign, Biden had promised a more humane immigration approach to the policies of former President Trump. 

In a new letter to the Democratic president and other top officials, more than 100 organizations have called for the restoration of all migrants’ ability to claim asylum in the United States. It also urged Biden to refrain from any new policies that limit access to asylum; a right enshrined in international law. 

Immigration advocates have criticized Biden's asylum policies, saying deporting asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border and other deterrent measures were "cruel, unlawful and ineffective." 

The groups urged Biden not to adopt any policies that force migrants to wait in Mexico for the resolution of their cases back in America, which they said: "would unquestionably put individuals in danger and violate U.S. asylum law."

However, the U.S. President has retained an order known as Title 42; one of Trump's most limiting measures which allow U.S. authorities to expel asylum seekers caught crossing the border back to Mexico. 

Over the past several months, arrests at the border have risen to a 20-year high, fueling criticism that Biden is following in the same footsteps as Trump. Advocates for asylum seekers say the administration's actions contradict what Biden had promised. At the same time, some Democrats have pressed Biden to end Title 42. 

The White House claims the expulsions are necessary to keep U.S. detention centers from becoming overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic, which they allege would create a risk for government workers, migrants, and the public.

Last week, the administration began forcibly flying some Central American and Mexican migrants arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border to southern Mexico.

Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, says Washington would expand an online asylum registration system so asylum seekers can apply remotely, adding that more changes would be announced in the coming days. He declined to say which asylum seekers would be eligible to use the online system. 

In the letter to Biden, the groups said they are "gravely concerned" about the flights as well as reports that asylum seekers were then bused to a remote part of Guatemala. 

The executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center, Marielena Hincapié, says the flights signaled the Biden White House was taking a more restrictive stance. She has accused Biden of focusing only on arrests and deportation rather than the rights of the asylum seekers. 

"That absolutely contradicts what the Biden administration said they were going to do," she said.

Over the past six months, the U.S. administration has backed the expiration of certain visas while pushing for tougher requirements for investors seeking green cards, and supported the denial of permanent residency for thousands of immigrants living legally in America.

If that sounds like the type of immigration policies that the former President Donald Trump pursued, it’s because that’s exactly what they are. Despite that, President Biden is defending these policies in court. 

Critics say Biden is inheriting and pursuing the same approach as his predecessor in many issues, despite a campaign pledge to quickly reverse the former administration’s controversial domestic and international policies.

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