Democrats and immigration groups slammed the Biden administration over its new proposed rule that would largely bar migrants from being able to seek asylum at the southern border.
The proposal, which was released Tuesday, marks the most restrictive border measure by the White House. It would disqualify migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they traveled through other countries but did not seek protections from them.
“We are deeply disappointed in the Biden administration’s proposal to limit access to asylum. The ability to seek asylum is a bedrock principle protected by federal law and should never be violated,” Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), the ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee and Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee, respectively, said in a statement.
The proposed rule would be implemented following a 30-day public comment period that would coincide with the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era immigration restriction set to expire on May 11. If adopted, the new policy would remain in place for two years.
Advocates have slammed the proposed rule, noting it is reminiscent of former President Donald Trump’s “transit ban,” which was ultimately struck down by federal judges.
“This rule reaches into the dustbin of history to resurrect one of the most harmful and illegal anti-asylum policies of the Trump administration,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said in a statement.“Requiring persecuted people to first seek protection in countries with no functioning asylum systems themselves is a ludicrous and life-threatening proposal.”
White House officials pushed back on the comparison to the Trump administration, noting it was not a categorical ban and arguing the policy was necessary because of Congress’ inaction on immigration.
“To be clear, this was not our first preference or even our second,” an administration official told reporters. “From day one, President Biden has urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures to ensure orderly, safe, and humane processing of migrants at our border.”
But Anu Joshi, deputy director of the National Political Advocacy Department at the American Civil Liberties Union, said Biden’s proposed policy was at odds with what lawmakers had envisioned for asylum-seekers.
“Congress designed our asylum laws to ensure that everyone escaping persecution has a chance to seek safety in the U.S., regardless of how they must flee danger or enter the country,” she said.
“This asylum ban is, at its core, Trump’s asylum ban under a different name. It will leave the most vulnerable people in much the same position as Trump’s policy did — at risk and unfairly denied the protection of asylum for reasons that have nothing to do with their need for refuge. We can’t overstate the human suffering that will result.”