By David M. Greenwald
Washington, DC – In December the Supreme Court issued an order to prevent the Title 42 public health order from being lifted. In response, the Biden administration on Thursday announced new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry.
The measures include an expansion of immediate expulsions to Mexico under Title 42 for people seeking asylum at the border from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti, and the revival of the Trump administration’s asylum transit ban in some form.
Those not eligible for the program would be immediately expelled under Title 42, some would argue, in violation of the right to seek asylum.
The administration believes these measures will “expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration and result in new consequences for those who fail to use those legal pathways.”
The administration will expand resources to the border and the region, “expanding coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organizations.
“While these steps will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all of the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long,” the White House said in a statement.
“That can only happen if Republicans in Congress who have spent the past two years talking about border security quit blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office, and opposing the billions of dollars in additional funds the President has requested for border security and management,” the White House added.
The White House accused “Republican officials [of] playing political games and obstructing real solutions to fix our broken immigration system” and argued that the President has a plan “and is taking action.”
But not everyone agrees.
Jonathan Blazer, the American Civil Liberties Union’s director of border strategies, explained, “President Biden correctly recognized today that seeking asylum is a legal right and spoke sympathetically about people fleeing persecution. But the plan he announced further ties his administration to the poisonous anti-immigrant policies of the Trump era instead of restoring fair access to asylum protections.”
As Blazer noted, many consider the Title 42 policies “an unjustifiable misuse of the public health laws.” Blazer believes this is a “knee-jerk expansion of Title 42” that “will put more lives in grave danger.”
He said, “Let’s be clear: nothing requires the administration to expand Title 42 while it claims to be preparing for its ending. There is simply no reason why the benefits of a new parole program for Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians must be conditioned on the expansion of dangerous expulsions.”
He added, “And previously, President Biden explicitly condemned Trump’s asylum ban against people who travel through other countries and made a campaign promise to end it and restore our asylum laws. But today the White House announced that he plans to bring a version of that ban back. His commitments to people seeking safety will ring utterly hollow if he moves forward in substituting one illegal anti-asylum Trump policy for another.”
“The expansion of Title 42 to include Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans is a broken promise,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director, Hope Border Institute. “Rather than putting our country on a sure path to fully restoring asylum at the border, these new actions by the Biden administration entrench a dangerous, ineffective, and inhumane policy where those in need of protection at the border are summarily expelled.”
“Today, President Biden announced additional enforcement actions which would further restrict the rights of migrants to seek asylum in the United States”, said Pedro Rios, Director of the US-Mexico Border Program for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). “The Administration is expanding the use of Title 42, which is an archaic public health order that empowers Border Patrol agents to expel migrants without recognizing their right to seek asylum under U.S. and international law, and further expedite their removal.”
“We welcome President Biden’s words about ending prejudice against immigrants and his support for the organizations and border communities serving immigrants. However, we are deeply disappointed that the Biden administration continues to choose failed border policies over just, humane policies that welcome our neighbors seeking safety,” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.
“With the new policies announced by President Biden, the right to seek asylum at ports of entry continues to shrink to the point of illusion,” said Susan Gunn, director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “These new policies do not seem to advance any legitimate goal in protecting persons fleeing serious harm in their home countries.”
“New sponsorship and travel requirements for parole for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans will leave the most vulnerable people without a path to protection,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service.