U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on preserving and protecting Democracy at Union Station on November 2, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Shutterstock)
By JR Holguin
On Thursday, January 5, President Biden unveiled a new strategy that includes extending Title 42 expulsions of people who enter the U.S. through the southern border while granting humanitarian parole to up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Previously, those from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua were permitted to apply for asylum at the southern border. Under the new arrangement, they would be immediately deported to Mexico. Biden said that Mexico agreed to deport up to 30,000 individuals per month who are apprehended.
“My message is this: If you’re trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua, or Haiti, or have agreed to begin a journey to America, do not — do not just show up at the border. Stay where you are and apply legally from there,” said Biden.
Under Biden’s new parole program, candidates must first download the CBP One app on their phone and apply for asylum. Second, they need to find a sponsor in the U.S. who will start the procedure and agree to pay for support. And they must wait while undergoing “rigorous background checks” and not try and cross the borderer unlawfully.
However, if their application is rejected or they attempt to enter the United States illegally, they will be deported to Mexico and will be ineligible for this program.
Since the program was established, a significant reduction in the number of Venezuelans attempting to enter America illegally has occurred, from 1,100 daily to an average of 250.
“This new process is orderly, it’s safe, and it’s humane. And it works,” Biden said.
But there have been mixed responses from migration advocates and city leaders, especially Democrat-led cities impelled to shelter bussed migrants, like New York City’s Mayor Adams.
In a statement to the press, he said: “For months, New Yorkers have seen an influx of asylum seekers from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and every day since, we have far surpassed our moral and legal mandates to serve the more than 36,400 asylum seekers who have arrived here. We have, largely on our own, provided shelter, clothes, food, education, health care, legal support, and a host of other services to asylum seekers — more than any other city in this country. But, as we have said for months, we cannot continue to maintain this flow.
“President Biden’s announcement today to expand the humanitarian program to allow more asylum seekers to travel to the United States safely, legally, and in a more controlled manner is an important, positive step in ensuring our federal partners can better address this humanitarian crisis. We appreciate this administration’s partnership and response to our request for action. We are hopeful this policy will help better control the flow of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border. At the same time, we still need a long-term and proactive strategy to manage the crisis we are seeing. This must include legislation that will allow asylum seekers to legally work while waiting on their asylum applications, a true decompression strategy and resettlement program that ensures asylum seekers are being spread out across the nation and not just sent to a handful of cities, and emergency financial relief for our city. Finally, we ultimately need a bipartisan effort to deliver true, long-awaited immigration reform so we can offer people a safe, legal path to the American dream. We know the members of our state’s delegation in Washington, D.C., are willing to lead these efforts, and, indeed, many have been immigration reform champions for decades.”
This comes after the city became a destination for more than 30,000 migrants that have arrived in the city so far. Many, if not most, were bussed from the State of Texas.
Conversely, immigration advocates condemn the President’s new policy. Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said the plan was “a shameful slap in the face to those seeking safety in the United States.” He stated, “President Biden’s plan to expel those who attempt to cross the border, announced earlier today, is an attack on the humanitarian values and obligations of the United States. This plan needlessly endangers the lives of those crossing the border in search of basic freedom in our country and succumbs to the fearmongering espoused by anti-immigrant conservatives. President Biden must stop the hypocrisy of his immigration policies and instead proudly stand up for all refugees and asylum seekers as he has always professed to do. As Title 42 continues to be enforced by the Biden administration, cruelly subjecting asylum seekers to violence, this plan is a shameful slap in the face to those seeking safety in the United States. Rather than limiting humanitarian parole for just a select few with family connections and financial privilege, the Biden administration must expand additional protections for all asylum seekers so our country can fulfill its humanitarian obligations and provide opportunity and freedom for all.”
Jeremy Robbins, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, compared President’s Biden decision to be in the style of Trump. He said, “Creating an alternate pathway for migrants to come to the United States without having to brave the dangers of a journey on foot through Mexico is a positive step forward for the United States. Research has consistently shown that the best way to reduce irregular migration is through the creation of lawful pathways, which today’s action will do. But parole only provides temporary authorization to remain in the United States, and Congress needs to act to make these new pathways permanent.
However, today’s announcement also comes with a harsh, Trump-style crackdown on asylum seekers, many of whom are fleeing from regimes globally recognized as oppressive. Expanding the use of Title 42 expulsions to Mexico will cause enormous harm for the thousands of asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution in their home countries and will now be blocked from seeking safety. Title 42 is a failed policy which has caused immeasurable harm to our system of humanitarian protections, and the Biden administration should be getting rid of it, not expanding its use.
In addition, today’s announcement will reinstate multiple Trump-era policies that were previously found to be illegal. Not only would a new asylum ban be illegal and immoral if put into place, but it would also create unnecessary barriers to protection that would put the lives of asylum seekers at risk. Those who flee persecution should not be forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops while enduring deprivation and insecurity in dangerous border cities. Like Title 42, harsh policies like asylum bans arbitrarily deny people protections and generally fail to achieve any deterrent effect.
For generations, the United States has offered a promise that any person fleeing persecution and harm in their home country could seek asylum. When President Biden took office, he also promised to restore a safe and humane asylum process. While today’s actions do create a laudable alternate pathway for some people seeking protection in the United States, they also break from his prior promises and threaten a return to the same harmful asylum policies of his predecessor.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, January 8, for the first time as President, Biden visited the US-Mexico border. However, he did not appear to see or meet with migrants, including during a trip to a migrant respite center.
Instead, he spent several hours in El Paso on his first visit to the southern border as President, following growing outcry and criticism that he had not yet seen the crisis created by the record number of migrants traveling to the border firsthand.