On January 5, 2023, President Biden announced his plans for border security and enforcement. The plan includes an expansion of Title 42, a Trump-era public health measure that has allowed the U.S. to expel over 2.5 million migrants since 2020. The expansion of Title 42 will allow the administration to quickly expel asylum seekers from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti.
The new policy changes also include an increased use of expedited removal and a third-country transit ban. These measures will further dismantle our asylum system, which is already virtually non-existent for migrants needing refuge.
The administration’s expansion of Title 42 is modeled after a new parole program for Venezuela that he enacted in October of 2022 in an effort to decrease the number of Venezuelan migrants asking for asylum at the U.S. southern border.
“Here at the Arizona border, we daily witness the ineffectiveness of the Venezuelan parole program and the further danger that it imposes on Venezuelan asylum seekers,” states Alba Jaramillo, co-executive director for ILJ Network. “The parole program requires asylum seekers to attain a passport, forcing them to interact with government officials—the same government that is persecuting them.
“Additionally, many Venezuelan asylum seekers cannot afford the passport fee and do not have sponsors in the United States with U.S. immigration status who are able to receive them. It is horrifying that this inhumane and ineffective policy will also be applied to asylum seekers from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti.”
President Biden states that the new changes will “reduce the number of people attempting to cross our southwestern border without going through the legal process.” Requesting asylum at a port of entry and in-between ports of entry is legal under domestic and international law. The administration’s deterrence efforts and further expansion of Title 42 run contrary to President Biden’s campaign promise to restore our asylum system.
ILJ Network has stood firmly against Title 42, and we denounce this further expansion. We call on the administration to honor their campaign promises and our national and international obligations under asylum law.
ILJ affiliate Justice for Our Neighbors El Paso responds:
“President Biden’s newest “policy” is to return many more of the most vulnerable people to Mexico, ignoring not just the realities on the ground, but the underlying reasons why they are fleeing their countries. The right to asylum should not require money or ties to the United States, but should be available to all, especially those in the most desperate situations.
“We hope the president’s visit to El Paso will help shift his thinking to a more welcoming stance, rather than doubling down on failed and punitive policies.”
ILJ affiliate Arizona Justice for Our Neighbors responds:
“The unbalanced effect of prioritizing enforcement policies instead of our obligations under asylum law endangers the lives of migrant families. We continue to be firm in our advocacy for justice and equity.”
Photo courtesy of Moreno Gonza for UNICEF.