(CNN) The Biden administration unveiled a new rule on Tuesday that bars migrants who have traveled through other countries on their way to the US-Mexico border from applying for asylum in the US, marking a departure from decades-old protocol.
The new 153-page proposed regulation, which could affect tens of thousands of people, is the most restrictive of the patchwork of policies put in place by the Biden administration to manage and manage the US-Mexico border, and is reminiscent of the Trump era. principle.
The proposed rule considers asylum ineligibility and would “encourage immigrants to obtain legal, safe and orderly passage into the United States, or otherwise seek asylum or other protection in countries they travel to, thereby reducing reliance on human trafficking networks that exploit immigrants for financial gain,” according to the regulatory text.
Although there are some exceptions, this rule generally applies to immigrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally. This does not apply to unaccompanied migrant children.
“To be clear, this is not our first choice or our second choice,” an administration official told reporters, adding that the onus is on Congress to pass the reform.
“These temporary measures are being taken out of necessity,” the administration official said.
Administration officials on Tuesday rejected comparisons to the Trump administration, saying it was not an outright ban on asylum and emphasizing efforts to expand access to legal pathways to the U.S., including a recently launched parole program for certain nationalities.
The proposed rule will be posted in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period and take effect in May, when the pandemic statute known as Title 42 expires. This rule is expected to last for two years.
As in the Trump era, Biden’s policy has drawn broad condemnation from Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocates. In a private meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week, Democratic Hispanic senators expressed their ongoing concerns about and against the administration, a source familiar with the meeting said.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus previously expressed frustration with the administration when it announced the ruling, describing it as blindsided by new border policies and lack of engagement. On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York, and Ranking Member of the Immigration Integrity, Security and Enforcement Subcommittee Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, slammed the move.
“We are deeply disappointed in the Biden administration’s plan to limit access to asylum,” the joint statement said. “The ability to claim asylum is a fundamental principle protected by federal law that must never be violated.”
According to the source, Mayorkas disciplined the Latino senators, but that did not seem to quell concerns. Immigrant advocates criticized the asylum rule on Tuesday, arguing it violates President Joe Biden’s pledge to restore asylum.
“This provision reaches into the dustbin of history to resurrect one of the Trump administration’s most harmful and illegal anti-asylum policies,” Krish O’Mara Wignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, said in a statement. “It is a ludicrous and life-threatening plan for persecuted people to seek refuge first in countries without functioning asylum systems.”
To manage the flow, the administration is leaning on Title 42 to deport certain migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border. But with the clock ticking on its potential expiration and amid ongoing cases, as tens of thousands of migrants continue to move across the Western Hemisphere, officials are considering other enforcement measures.
In programs considered by the administration, an expedited deportation process known as “expedited removal” is used. Although Mexico takes in immigrants under Title 42, the plan would appear to be the first time Mexico would take back deportees on a large scale under the Trump-era border policy known as “stay in Mexico.” The Department of Homeland Security has denied reports of the plan.
Changing migration patterns have put a strain on federal resources as border officials deal with increasing numbers of Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. The U.S. is largely barred from deporting immigrants from those countries to their countries of origin because of strained diplomatic relations.
The United States has begun deporting Title 42 immigrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to Mexico and has opened a separate program that allows those nationals and immigrants from Haiti to apply to come to the United States legally. Thousands of migrants have already applied.
Administration officials have credited the program with leading to a significant drop in border crossings.