White House proposes new rule to ease migrant surge at border

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (L) on Tuesday proposed a new rule that aims to drop the number of migrants applying for asylum at the U.S. southern border. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (L) on Tuesday proposed a new rule that aims to drop the number of migrants applying for asylum at the U.S. southern border. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Tuesday proposed a new immigration rule aimed at curbing the surge at the U.S. southern border, a move critics say will illegally ban refugees from seeking asylum.

Under the proposed rule, migrants seeking to enter the United States will be assumed inadmissible if they "circumvent available, established pathways to lawful migration," including entering the United States between ports of entry or arriving at a port of entry without a scheduled appointment.


It also denies those who fail to seek protection in countries they traverse en route to the U.S. southern border.

Those subject to removal will be done so under Title 8, which comes with a five-year re-entry ban.

The rule, proposed by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, was first announced in early January amid high levels of migrant encounters at the border and in preparation for the repealing of Title 42, a pandemic-era health order that, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, permitted the expulsion of more than 2.6 million people since being enacted in March 2020.


The dual federal departments described the proposed rule in a statement Tuesday as a move to "incentivize" the use of lawful entry mechanisms and to "disincentivize" dangerous border crossings.

Since it was announced, the rule has been attacked by immigration advocates and critics who characterized it as President Joe Biden adopting the staunch immigration policies of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, which he campaigned to dismantle.

Nearly 300 civil, human and immigration rights groups wrote Biden a letter condemning the rule and urging him to change course.

Human Rights First, which published the January letter, said Tuesday the proposal would deny refugees asylum by blocking and then rapidly expelling them without asylum hearings.

It also said the rule is illegal, as access to potential asylum is contingent on a refugee's access to technology and ability to navigate the federal government's CBP One smartphone application to make an appointment.

"@POTUS promised to #restoreasylum," Human Rights First tweeted. "Instead, he's pulling punitive practices straight from the Trump playbook.

"Deterrence policies like this are deadly. Full stop."

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday also attacked the rule's requirement for migrants to first apply for asylum in countries they travel through to reach the United States, saying those such as Mexico "don't have working asylum systems."


"President Biden's proposed rule would leave vulnerable people in danger and unfairly deny protection to thousands," it tweeted.

"We successfully fought President Trump on a similar ban in the courts -- President Biden's should not move forward."

Even members of Biden's own Democratic Party reacted in disappointment, with a group of senators stating it will function as a "transit ban" on asylum seekers.

"We are deeply disappointed that the administration has chosen to move forward with publishing this proposed rule, which only perpetuates the harmful myth that asylum seekers are a threat to this nation," Sens. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Alex Padilla of California and Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey said in a statement.

Late last month, the Biden administration announced its intent to repeal Title 42 on May 11, which intensified staunched criticism directed at the White House by Republicans fuming over the more than 2.7 million migrant encounters that occurred in the last fiscal year, which was up from nearly 2 million a year prior. However, of those encounters last year, more than 1.1 million were expelled under Title 42.

In its proposed rule, the Biden administration said it estimates that once Title 42 is removed, DHS encounters could rise to between 11,000 and 13,000 a day absent a policy for removing migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.


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