TIJUANA, BAJA CALIFORNIA.- The United States could bar tens of thousands of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from claiming asylum under a proposal unveiled on Tuesday that would be the most wide-ranging attempt yet by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to deter unauthorized crossings.
Under the new rules, migrants who do not schedule an appointment at a U.S. border port of entry or use humanitarian programs available to certain nationalities would be ineligible for asylum except in certain cases. They must also first seek and be denied protection in countries they pass through to be able to claim asylum once in the United States.
Reuters first reported details of the measure, which was posted online on Tuesday and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period before being reviewed for final publication.
Biden, a Democrat who took office in 2021 and is expected to seek re-election in 2024, initially pledged to restore asylum access that was curtailed under his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump. But advocates and some fellow Democrats have criticized him for increasingly embracing Trump-style restrictions as he has struggled to cope with record numbers of arriving migrants.
Biden’s plan to ban certain asylum seekers mirrors similar efforts under Trump that were blocked by federal courts and has drawn similar opposition.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vowed to fight the Biden rule in court, comparing it to the Trump restriction, which was dubbed a “transit ban” by activists.
“We successfully sued to block the Trump transit ban and will sue again if the Biden administration goes through with its plan,” said Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who argued the Trump-era lawsuit.
Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, said the Biden proposal ignores dangerous conditions and limited asylum capacity in transit countries where migrants will be expected to seek protection.
“It’s a terrible example of trying to flout your domestic and international legal obligations,” she concluded.