More than 70 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden Thursday, expressing concerns over U.S. asylum policy at the southern border. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 26 (UPI) -- More than 70 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden Thursday, expressing concerns over U.S. asylum policy at the southern border.
"We write to express our great concern over the new asylum restrictions announced by your administration. While we applaud the creation of new legal pathways for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans modeled off the existing parole programs for Venezuelans, it is disappointing that these pathways come at the expense of the legal right to seek asylum at the southern border," reads the letter, signed by a total of 77 Senators and House lawmakers.
"The administration's announced border enforcement actions circumvent [domestic and international] law by not only expanding Title 42 beyond what is required by any court but by further implementing policies to deter and penalize people exercising their legal right to seek asylum at the border."
At issue is a policy announcement Biden made earlier in January when he revealed the United States will welcome as many as 30,000 asylum-seeking migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua. The president also said he would expand Title 42, which was enacted under former president Donald Trump and which allows authorities to turn away people from other countries also seeking refuge.
At the time, Biden said his hope was the move would discourage other migrants from trekking through Central America and Mexico in an attempt to gain entry into the United States.
"Instead of issuing a new asylum transit ban and expanding Title 42, we encourage your administration to stand by your commitment to restore and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees," the letter states.
It goes on to call for the president to open more legal avenues for asylum seekers.
"Nearly 80 lawmakers [are] urging President Joe Biden to reverse his administration's expansion of the failed border policy known as Title 42 and to abandon the proposed asylum 'transit ban' rule," Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., one of the letter's signatories said in a statement on his website.
"But as elected officials, we are duty-bound to propose legal solutions, one that protects asylum-seekers while also securing the safe removal of migrants who have no legal claim to stay in the United States," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.