Biden imposes strict restrictions on asylum on the southern border of the United States | Migration news

Washington DC – US President Joe Biden has imposed new restrictions that would prohibit most migrants who cross the US southern border without authorization from seeking asylum in the country.

The White House announced the new measures on Tuesday and said the United States “must secure” its borders.

“These actions will take effect when high levels of encounters at the southern border exceed our ability to provide timely consequences, as is the case today,” the White House said in a statement.

“They will make it easier for immigration officers to expel those who have no legal basis to stay and will reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents.”

The measure will prevent any migrant who crosses the southern border without authorization from requesting asylum if the average number of unauthorized daily crossings exceeds 2,500.

CBS News reported last month that the average number of daily unauthorized crossings reported by the US Border Patrol was 3,700.

The new regulations will go into effect early Wednesday and will remain in effect until the number of unauthorized crossings falls below a daily average of 1,500 for a week. Restrictions would be reimposed if numbers rise again.

The decree makes exceptions for unaccompanied minors and people considered victims of human trafficking.

While Biden has previously imposed restrictions on seeking asylum, Tuesday’s measures are the most sweeping restrictions he has imposed on migration at the southern border.

The announcement comes in the middle of Biden’s campaign for the November presidential election, when he will face his predecessor and Republican rival Donald Trump.

Hannah Flamm, policy advisor for the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), said the decree will “effectively close” the border to asylum seekers.

“Prior to this rule, there were countless obstacles to seeking asylum that the Biden administration has exacerbated and aggravated in recent weeks and months. But there was the ability to do it,” Flamm told Al Jazeera.

“With this rule, once the average encounter limit of 2,500 people per day is reached, the default is that you do not have the opportunity to apply for asylum.”

Trump-like approach

Immigration and civil rights groups were quick to criticize the restrictions, calling them an “asylum ban” similar to Trump’s policies when he was in office.

“The Biden administration just announced an executive order that will severely restrict people’s legal right to seek asylum, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a post on Tuesday. social networks.

“This action takes the same approach as the Trump administration’s asylum ban. “We will challenge this order in court.”

U.S. law allows anyone on U.S. soil to request asylum claiming persecution in their country. Federal officials and immigration courts would then have to evaluate the claim, a lengthy process that could take years to resolve.

But the White House cited sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which give the president powers to regulate immigration, as the legal basis for the restriction.

Trump had used the same legislation to impose his so-called “Muslim ban” in 2017, when he banned citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

However, Biden attempted to draw a distinction between himself and Trump in announcing the executive order on Wednesday.

“I will never demonize immigrants,” Biden told reporters. “I will never refer to immigrants as if they are poisoning the blood of our country. And furthermore, I will never separate children from their families at the border. “I will not expel people from this country for their religious beliefs.”

He also criticized Republicans for not working with the White House to address immigration and increase resources for border security.

Still, many lawmakers in Biden’s own Democratic Party have criticized the move.

“This attempt to close the border to asylum seekers uses the same section of US immigration laws that convicted felon Donald Trump used to implement the Muslim ban and in an attempt to cut off all access to asylum,” said the Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in a statement. .

“While there are some differences with Trump’s actions, the reality is that he uses the same failed approach of only enforcing the law, penalizes asylum seekers, and promotes a false narrative that these actions will ‘fix’ the border.” .

‘Moral and political failure’

Immigration is a hot topic in American politics, especially in an election year. The United States’ southern border has seen a record level of new arrivals in recent years.

Republicans often accuse Biden of opening the U.S. border to unauthorized immigrants and allowing criminals and illicit drugs into the country. Trump in particular has made anti-immigration rhetoric a central point of his campaign.

And some Republican governors in southern states have chartered buses and planes to transport migrants to mostly Democratic northern cities.

IRAP’s Flamm said the narrative that Biden is pushing open border policies is unfounded.

“Biden is incredibly tough on the border,” he said. “And I think it is a moral and political failure for this administration to not take a position that protects the rights of immigrants and people who seek safety in the United States.”

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden has taken executive actions in the absence of legislation to try to “help alleviate” some of the pressure caused by border crossings.

“In this hemisphere alone, we have seen more people on the move since World War II,” Kirby told Al Jazeera in a television interview.

“We are working very hard with our partners in the region, including and primarily with Mexico, to do what we can to help stop the reasons for that migration, try to get to its root causes.”

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