The Biden administration is weighing Trump-like asylum limits as it prepares for the end of Title 42 border restrictions
Washington – The Biden administration is preparing for a court-ordered end to pandemic-related border restrictions in place since 2020 and is considering enacting an asylum restriction akin to court-cracked Trump-era policy, two people familiar with the matter told CBS News .
The proposed policy that would discourage certain migrantsif they failed to seek protection in other countries beforehand, has not received final approval within the administration, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified to discuss internal deliberations.
But the partial asylum ban is one of several policies being considered by top White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials as the administration prepares for the enda public health order that has allowed US border officials to quickly deport hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly to Mexico, without allowing them to seek asylum.
Marsha Espinosa, a spokeswoman for DHS, called reports of how U.S. policy could change inaccurate, saying “no such decisions have been made.”
“The government is committed to continuing to secure our borders while maintaining a safe, orderly and humane processing of migrants,” Espinosa added. “It will remain so when Title 42 is repealed.”
The government has also considered expanding processing of asylum seekers at ports of entry along the southern border, as well as a program that would allow some Venezuelans to legally enter the US at airports if they have financial sponsors in the US
On Nov. 15, a federal judge declared the policy illegal under Title 42 and later gave the Biden administration until Dec. 21 to stop using the health agency, which was first invoked in March 2020 under former President Donald Trump. The Justice Department told a court filing on Friday that the administration will decide by December 7 whether to appeal the court ruling.
While it should always be a temporary emergency measure, the end of Title 42 has raised concerns about an even larger number of migrants reaching the U.S.-Mexico border and straining the federal government’s capacity to process them. Republican lawmakers and some moderate Democrats have raised concerns about the government’s ability to handle a larger influx of illegal border crossings.
In the fiscal year 2022, a period of 12 months, US Customs and Border Protectionover 2.3 million times, a record high, although many of these encounters involved repeated border crossings. During that time span, U.S. border officials conducted over 1 million Title 42 deportations and expelled the majority of the Mexican and Central American adults they processed, federal data shows.
The consideration of asylum limits, first reported by Axios earlier this week, has alarmed asylum-seeker advocates, who have called on the Biden administration to reject deterrence-based measures they say ignore international and domestic refugee law that it says Allows migrants to apply for humanitarian protection even if they entered the country illegally.
2019 the Trump administrationa similar policy known as the “transit ban” to bar most non-Mexican migrants from US asylum. But the policy was eventually struck down in federal court.
“If it’s the Trump travel ban or some similar error, we will sue immediately as we did during the Trump administration,” said Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney who advocates the asylum restriction challenged by 2019.
The US asylum system was designed to protect migrants fleeing persecution because of their race, nationality, political opinions, religion, or membership of a social group. But a growing backlog of cases has affected the government’s ability to decide and place asylum cases in a timely mannerand creating an incentive for other migrants to use the system to work in the US
For months, the Biden administration has publicly stated that it is preparing to end Title 42, which the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) tried to end this spring, despite being prevented from doing so by a lawsuit brought by Republicans led states.
A DHS plan released at the time called for an increase in resources and personnel on the southern border, increased cooperation with migrant service groups, a crackdown on people smugglers, and efforts with countries in Latin America to prevent mass migration to the United States.
The plan also called for increased prosecutions of certain migrants, including those who have crossed the border illegally multiple times, and the use of expedited deportation, a decades-old procedure that allows US border officials to deport migrants who do not seek asylum or who seek asylum quickly cannot establish a credible fear of persecution.
Speaking to the Latin American press last week, Blas Nuñez Neto, DHS assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, said the US would seek to prosecute migrants who attempt to evade border police and deport those found illegally entering enter the country removal, which includes a 5-year ban from the US
However, as under Title 42, the US may not be able to deport all migrants under the expedited deportation process for logistical and diplomatic reasons. Countries like Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have restricted or opposed US deportations in recent years.
Mexico, on the other hand, generally only accepted the return of its own citizens and migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In mid-October, Mexico agreed to accept some Venezuelans expelled under Title 42, but that legal authority expires later this month.
Nuñez Neto said last week that the US now has the ability to carry out deportations to Nicaragua. It is also talking to Mexico and other countries to see if they could facilitate the return of Venezuelan migrants under US immigration law, Nuñez Neto said.
A Biden administrationWeak asylum claims have shown signs of success, with 50% of asylum seekers being rejected in the first phase of screening and eligible migrants being granted asylum in months rather than years. However, implementation of the program since its launch in June has been very limited.