WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the United States will begin immediately turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who cross the border illegally from Mexico, his biggest decision yet to deal with migrant arrivals. Strongest move, which has grown a lot since then. He took charge two years ago.
The new rules expand on an existing plan to prevent Venezuelans from trying to enter the United States, which began in October and led to a sharp drop in the number of Venezuelans reaching the southern border. Together, they represent a major change in immigration rules that would remain in place even if the Supreme Court struck down Title 42, a law enacted under former President Donald Trump that allowed US officials to quickly deport applicants for asylum. allows for.
“No, just don’t show up at the border,” Biden announced in announcing the changes, though he also acknowledged the hardships that families are forced to make the dangerous journey north.
“Stay where you are and apply legally from there,” he advised.
Biden made the announcement on Sunday just days ahead of his planned trip to El Paso, Texas, his first trip to the southern border as president. From there he will travel to Mexico City on Monday and Tuesday to meet with the presidents of Mexico and Canada.
Department of Homeland Security officials said they would begin denying asylum to people who avoid legal avenues and who have not previously applied for asylum in the country through which they traveled to the United States.
At the same time, the government announced that it would accept 30,000 people a month from the four countries for two years and give them a chance to work, as long as they move legally, have sponsors who are certain Meet the requirements and pass the verification. background. The four nations that have seen the fastest rise in migrant border crossings have no easy way to quickly return them to their countries of origin.
“This new process is orderly,” Biden declared. “It’s safe and humane, and it works.”
As expected, the move immediately drew criticism from migrant and asylum advocates, who have had a rocky relationship with the president.
Jonathan Blazer, director of border strategies for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, for its acronym in Spanish), said, “President Biden correctly recognized today that seeking asylum is a legal right and that people fleeing persecution I spoke sympathetically.” “But the plan he announced links his administration to the toxic anti-immigrant policies of the Trump era, rather than restoring proper access to asylum protections.”
Despite the restrictions related to Title 42, the number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border has increased dramatically during Biden’s two years in office. There were over 2.38 million arrests in the fiscal year ended September 30, the first time the number had crossed 2 million. The current administration has struggled to reduce crossings, reluctant to take the same tough measures as the Trump administration.
It has drawn harsh criticism from Republicans who say the Democratic president has been ineffective on border security, and the House Republican majority has promised a congressional investigation into the matter.
The new policy could result in 360,000 people from these four countries legally entering the United States a year, a huge number. But many more people from those countries are trying to cross on foot, by boat or by swimming. In November alone, 82,286 migrants from those countries were detained.
Enair Valbuena, a Venezuelan living in the Mexican city of Tijuana after crossing the border illegally, said Thursday’s announcement was not a surprise, but a blow nonetheless.
“You can see it’s coming, getting harder and harder,” he said by text message.
Valbuena said some Venezuelans waiting at the US-Mexico border are talking to each other about the possibility of going to Canada. He was awaiting the outcome of asylum sanctions before attempting to re-enter the United States, and is seeking asylum in Mexico, which offers a better future than Venezuela.
“If it makes it more difficult (in the United States), the best thing … is to get a permit”, said Valbuena, who works at the Tijuana factory in Mexico.
Mexico has agreed to accept 30,000 migrants a month – from these four countries – who try to cross the border or swim to the United States and are turned back. Normally, these migrants would be deported back to their countries of origin, but Washington cannot easily repatriate people from those countries for various reasons, including deteriorating relations with their governments.
Anyone entering the United States has the right to apply for asylum, regardless of how they crossed the border, and migrants seeking a better life in the United States often pay smugglers thousands of dollars to help them get there. pay equal to
But the requirements for granting asylum are strict, with only around 30% of applications being approved. This has created a system in which migrants try to cross through ports of entry and are allowed into the United States to await the outcome of their cases. But with 20 lakh cases pending in the courts, their resolution usually takes years.
The only permanent way to change the system is through Congress, but a bipartisan legislative effort to enact new immigration laws failed before Republicans regained a majority in the House.
In an attempt to pressure lawmakers to act, Biden said, “The actions we’re announcing will improve things, but they won’t completely fix the problem at the border.”
During the Trump presidency, the United States required asylum seekers to wait on the other side of the border in Mexico. But backlogs in the US immigration system have led to long delays, leading to stinking border camps where migrants are forced to wait. That system ended under the Biden presidency, and under the new rules migrants returning to Mexico would not be eligible for asylum.
Biden would triple the number of refugees the United States will accept from the Western Hemisphere, from Latin America and the Caribbean, to 20,000 over the next two years. Refugees and asylum seekers have to meet the same criteria to be allowed into the country, but arrive through different means.
Border officials are also creating an online appointment-making portal to help reduce wait times for those arriving legally. This will allow people to make an appointment to come and apply to enter the country.
At the southern border, the United States has denied immigrants applying for asylum 2.5 million times since March 2020 under Title 42 sanctions, which Trump announced as an emergency health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. was introduced in But there has always been criticism that the Republican president used the sanctions as an excuse to seal the border.
Biden moved to eliminate the Title 42 restrictions, and Republicans filed a lawsuit to keep them in place. The federal Supreme Court has kept that rule in effect for now. White House officials say they still believe the restrictions should end, but say they may continue to deny entry to migrants under immigration law.
Most of the current illegal border crossings are people of one of the four nationalities that Biden mentioned on Thursday. Cubans are leaving their country in the largest number in six decades, and in November there were 34,675 Cuban apprehensions at the US southern border, a 21% increase from October. There were also 34,209 arrests of Nicaraguans in November, a 65% increase compared to October.
But Venezuela saw little at the border after Mexico agreed on October 12 to begin accepting people expelled by the United States. There were 7,931 arrests of Venezuelans, a decrease of 64% compared to October.
Venezuelans have said the changes have been difficult, especially when it comes to finding sponsors who have the financial resources to support them. And even if they do find a sponsor, they sometimes delay their arrival because they lack the financial resources to pay for their flight to the United States. For some, the Venezuelan passport has expired, and they cannot renew it.
Spaggett reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana in Washington and Gisela Salomon in Miami contributed to this report.