Independent contractors work near a section of border fence in San Luis, Ariz., on May 4, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)
The Biden administration stated on May 10 that it has rolled out a new regulation to coincide with the end of Title 42, under which many people who plan to illegally cross the southern border will be rendered ineligible for asylum.
Under the finalized rule (pdf), which essentially brings back a Trump-era travel policy, illegal immigrants will be disqualified from applying for asylum in the United States if they didn’t first seek protection in countries that they traveled through on their way to the United States, with limited exceptions.
It will take effect as soon as the Title 42 public health order ends on May 11, along with the national emergency declaration over the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice, the regulation is meant to decrease human smuggling activities at the southern border by encouraging asylum-seekers to use “lawful, safe, and orderly” pathways, such as seeking refuge in a third country that they’ve passed through.
“This Administration has led the largest expansion of legal pathways for protection in decades, and this regulation will encourage migrants to seek access to those pathways instead of arriving unlawfully in the grip of smugglers at the southern border,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
The rule was first proposed in February and has undergone a 32-day public comment period. Its finalization comes as tens of thousands of migrants are arriving at and gathering along the Mexican side of the southern border, waiting for Title 42 to expire.
The move has triggered frustration among immigration activists, who see remarkable similarities between Biden’s rule and the Trump administration’s 2019 “third-country asylum” rule.
“The Biden administration’s pivot back to the Trumpian policies is complete,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, wrote on Twitter.
“These new asylum restrictions mirrors [sic] in large part one of the Trump administration’s harshest anti-asylum policies, the 2019 asylum transit ban—which two separate federal courts struck down as unlawful.”
He pointed to court decisions that sided with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) challenge against the Trump-era rule.
The ACLU also joined the criticism over the new policy, hinting that it may sue again.
“The ban closes off a pathway to safety for the majority of refugees in desperate need of it,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “At its core, the new rule mimics two Trump-era policies that were blocked by the courts.
“Make no mistake: The fight is far from over.”
Feds Surging Personnel to Border
Mayorkas says the federal government is increasing manpower at the border in anticipation of the expected influx of illegal immigrants at the May 11 expiration of Title 42.
Specifically, the administration is in the process of “surging personnel to the border, including more than 1,400 DHS personnel, 1,000 processing coordinators, and an additional 1,500 Department of Defense personnel,” Mayorkas said at a press conference.
“All of these individuals will allow our law enforcement officers to stay in the field and focus on their critical mission,” he told reporters.
“Our overall approach is to build lawful pathways for people to come to the United States and to impose tougher consequences on those who choose not to use those pathways.”
However, Mayorkas also warned that the operation might not go as well as planned due to the sheer number of people waiting to rush the border.
“Our plan will deliver results, but it will take time for those results to be fully realized,” he said.
Mayorkas also blamed Congress for not allocating resources needed by his department.
“I cannot overemphasize that our current situation is the outcome of Congress leaving a broken, outdated immigration system in place for over two decades, despite unanimous agreement that we desperately need legislative reform,” he said. “It is also the result of Congress’s decision not to provide us with the resources we need and that we requested.”
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