Angeldry Galeno, a Venezuelan migrant trying to apply for asylum in the US using the CBP ONE application, appointment, holds her daughter as she walks near the border between Mexico and US in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, February 24, 2023 (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)
The Biden Administration is reviving the Trump-era approach to crack down on asylum seekers and immigrants.
Two weeks ago the Administration published new rules to bar tens of thousands of migrants at the Mexico border from claiming asylum inside the US.
And US officials said on Tuesday that the Administration is considering the detention of migrant families, including children, who cross into the US.
The proposed revision to the asylum rules revive the Trump Administration’s attempt to require applications through which migrants pass. That approach, challenging the right under international law to claim asylum at any port of entry, was blocked by US courts.
The Biden Administration’s revival, declaring “a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility”, impose severe limitations on any applicant except for Mexicans. Children are also exempted, as are people with an “acute medical emergency”; those facing an “imminent and extreme threat” of violent crimes such as murder, rape; or kidnapping; victims of human trafficking; and those with “other extremely compelling circumstances”.
The measure is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it is formally adopted. Its initial period is two years, with the possibility of extension.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it will challenge the proposal. “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 against the Trump-era measures.
An official said that if the Administration proceeds with detention of families, it will be for short periods of time as cases are expedited through immigration courts.
Other officials said detention is one of several ideas under discussion as Coronavirus restrictions are lifted at the border. They say no plans have been completed.
Families who arrive at the US-Mexico border are currently released into the US and instructed to appear in immigration court at a later date. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities hold single adults who cross the border.
But the Biden Administration is searching for alternatives after the expiry of a Coronavirus-era provision, Title 42, which has been used to expel migrants. Its authority ends on May 11 as the national COVID-19 emergency formally ends.
Justice Department officials claim unauthorized border crossings could increase to somewhere between 11,000 and 13,000 per day, up from 8,600 daily in mid-December.
Joe Biden, then the Democratic nominee for the Presidency, had tweeted in June 2020:
Children should be released from ICE detention with their parents immediately. This is pretty simple, and I can't believe I have to say it: Families belong together. https://t.co/11F5X71AO1
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 27, 2020
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to comment, saying the reports were “rumors”: “I’m not saying that it is, I’m not saying that it’s not.”
She would not say whether Biden believed that the detention of families was humane.