On Tuesday, February 21, the Biden Administration announced a proposal that would give border officials the power to prevent asylum seekers from entering the United States of America if they had circumvented the legal, established, and available ways to enter the country. This would also apply to those asylum seekers who did not apply for asylum status in the countries they traveled through as they headed for the U.S. Violation of the rule will carry a 5 year ban from traveling to the U.S.
The proposal is described as a temporary measure by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. This is in anticipation of the lifting of Title 43 Order, which would likely see a resurgence in the arrival of asylum seeking migrants. The Biden Administration said this proposal was an opportunity to promote legal ways for migrants to enter the US, also discouraging illegal methods of entry.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, saw the positive in the proposed asylum rule. “We are a nation of immigrants, and we are a nation of laws,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “We are strengthening the availability of legal, orderly pathways for migrants to come to the United States, [and] at the same time proposing new consequences on those who fail to use processes made available to them by the United States and its regional partners.”
However critics have condemned the proposed asylum law, likening its effects to the Title 42 Order passed under the Trump Administration. “Our courts have long recognized that a person’s decision not to seek asylum while in transit to the U.S. does not override their need for protection here,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted in response to the new rule. “We successfully fought President Trump on a similar ban in the courts — President Biden’s should not move forward.”
The proposed rule has also been seen as an example of the U.S. neglecting its obligations as a country. The U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 contains international law that permits asylum seeking migrants to apply for protection in the U.S. while on the run from persecution in their countries. “It’s a terrible example of trying to flout your domestic and international legal obligations,” said Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California.