Biden administration eyes limits on asylum as border policy set to expire

Migration Asylum Ban
FILE – Four men from Cuba try to keep warm after crossing the border from Mexico and surrendering to authorities to apply for asylum on Nov. 3, 2022, near Yuma, Ariz. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday, Nov. 15, ordered the Biden administration to lift Trump-era asylum restrictions that have been a cornerstone of border enforcement since the beginning of COVID-19. Sullivan ruled that Title 42 authority end immediately for families and single adults, saying it violates federal rule-making procedures. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) Gregory Bull/AP

Biden administration eyes limits on asylum as border policy set to expire

With a Trump-era border policy set to end days before Christmas, the Biden administration is weighing restrictive immigration limits for asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S. southern border, according to reports.

Democrats in Congress have raised concerns that the administration has not prepared sufficiently for the expected disorder once Title 42 ends. The policy has allowed the United States to expel hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the country without hearing an asylum request. But after a federal judge declared the policy unlawful last month, the administration is under order to end its use by Dec. 21. The Justice Department said in a recent court filing that it would decide whether to appeal the decision by Dec. 7.

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U.S. officials eyeing the potential for a massive immigration event are meanwhile weighing strategies that could see prosecutions of illegal crossings rise, discussions that have included top officials from the White House National Security Council, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and Justice Department, according to Axios.

One proposal would prohibit immigrants from coming to the U.S. unless Mexico or another country first denies them asylum. Another would increase criminal prosecutions for adults traveling alone, particularly those who evade border enforcement.

Other measures would seek to incentivize legal migration pathways, including raising the cap on the number of Venezuelans who can qualify for entry. Those who attempt to cross the border illegally will be returned to Mexico as part of a temporary program that is soon to expire.

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Under the Trump administration, the U.S. declined to review asylum claims from immigrants who had failed to seek refuge in countries they had passed through on their way to the southern border.

Faced with the prospect of a massive immigration surge, the White House has said it is strengthening current processing systems. Still, it has pushed back on reports that it is eyeing new policies that echo those in place under former President Donald Trump.

Asked whether the administration was weighing alternatives to Title 42, President Joe Biden’s press secretary said Monday that the White House was committed to securing the border but that no new policy decisions had been made.

“Any suggestions that we might be changing a policy or looking at a different policy is inaccurate at this time,” Karine Jean-Pierre added.

Jean-Pierre said last month that the administration has been preparing to accelerate asylum processing times to “promptly” remove immigrants with no legal asylum basis. She said the public would soon hear more from the Department of Homeland Security and directed any legal questions to the Justice Department.

A White House spokesperson said the administration was working across multiple channels to address the migration challenge, including through diplomacy, efforts to improve conditions in immigrants’ home countries, and expanded legal channels for those seeking to come to the U.S.

The official credited the October Venezuela enforcement policy with Mexico for a “dramatic” drop in Venezuelan border crossings. Efforts to disrupt criminal smuggling, expanded legal options, and cooperation with regional partners have also slowed the number of immigrants from Mexico and northern Central America, the White House said.

Title 42 came into effect early in the coronavirus pandemic, invoked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one week after then-President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020. The CDC sought to end the policy this spring before a lawsuit from Republican-led states blocked the decision.

The Biden administration has continued to rely on it to manage a historic influx of arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border over the last two years.

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U.S. border officials have stopped over 2.3 million immigrants during fiscal 2022 and carried more than 1 million Title 42 expulsions over the same 12-month period, according to federal data. As the policy comes to an end, immigrants will be arrested and taken into custody and processed and will likely be released into the country.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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