Washington unveiled on Tuesday the outlines of a plan that aims to reduce the arrival of illegal immigrants to the United States. The Government of President Joe Biden tightens border management by imposing limits on citizens of other countries who arrive in the United States seeking asylum. Only those who request it from their countries of origin or nations of transit may do so, in line with the requirements advanced by the Administration at the beginning of 2023. The plan of the Democratic president, which is expected to be in force for two years from the next March, has generated much criticism from human rights organizations.
The extent, announced this Tuesday jointly by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, aims to motivate tens of thousands of migrants to undertake “a legal path or to seek asylum or protection in the countries through which they travel.” If they do not do so, the subjects will not be eligible to be allowed to enter the country, indicates the Administration. This argues that the initiative aims to reduce the dependence of migrants on human smuggling groups and reduce the flow of people arriving at the border with Mexico, an issue that has been controversial for Biden in the elections.
“We are reinforcing the availability of a safe, orderly, and legal path for them to reach the United States, and at the same time, we are proposing new consequences for those who do not resort to the processes offered by the country and its allies in the region,” he has assured this Tuesday in a statement Alejandro Mayorkas, the head of Internal Security of the Executive.
In January, the official reported that the Customs and Border Control Office (CBP) launched an application that receives all asylum requests from citizens who want to enter the country. The digital form must be filled out in the countries of origin, before the trip to the north is undertaken. President Biden then made it clear that if entry is denied or an attempt is made to travel illegally, people will be returned to Mexico and will not be able to participate in the program again. They will also be banned from entering the United States for five years.
The plan, which underpins the “rebuttable presumption” for those seeking asylum, was temporarily made public this Tuesday, when it was published in the official government gazette. During the next 30 days, it will be able to receive comments from the public and the different institutions in charge of putting the immigration policy of the United States into practice.
The measure also becomes a tool to control the migratory flow for Washington, which on May 11 will put an end to Title 42, a rule that has allowed it to quickly expel more than two million people (thousands of them were applicants of asylum) who arrived at the border during the health emergency.
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The norm, however, already has several critics, who consider it almost a total veto of the right to asylum. One of them is the reputed Union for Civil Liberties (ACLU, in English). “President Biden’s proposal would leave vulnerable people in danger, and would also deny protection to thousands,” said the organization, which has branded it as a new attack on the rights to seek protection and security in the United States, a country that forged by welcoming the persecuted in other nations.
The Washington office of Amnesty International has followed the same line. “The plan undermines the human right to asylum,” the human rights organization has considered. “This new veto on asylum would block protection for anyone who has not applied for asylum during their passage through third countries,” it says in a statement. Amnesty compares Biden’s move to similar bans that the Trump administration wanted to put in place in 2019, but was unable to do so because a federal appeals court prevented it from doing so. The ACLU has threatened legal action if Biden goes through with his plan.
The Administration has defended some of the measures it has put in place to discourage regional migration. In January, it imposed restrictions on nationals of Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua trying to arrive. Following the January 5 announcement, the weekly arrival average went from 1,200 citizens of those countries to just 35 by the end of the month, a 97% drop. “Encounters (apprehensions) have remained at a very low level throughout February,” says Homeland Security. Instead, the department said it gave the green light to 26,000 people. Nearly 34,000 Venezuelans have arrived in the United States since October 2022, when a program to order migration north was launched.
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