Bidens Administration Implements New Immigration Policy: Limiting Waves of Immigrants Seeking Asylum in America


GUILLERMO ARIAS / AFP via Getty Images

Immigrants protest against Title 42 along the U.S. southern border. The signs claim the Act discriminates agains Latin Americans.

When President Joe Biden was elected in 2020, one of his campaign promises was to open up borders to immigrants seeking safety or new lives. Instead, his new policies contradict this; closing southern borders to immigrants and refugees.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Title 42, a measure made by the Centers for Disease Control giving rights for patrol agents the authority to revoke migrants at borders, was reinforced in hopes to contain COVID and protect from further exposition into America. 

Title 42 is indicative of a larger trend among lawmakers from both parties who are becoming more accepting of the notion that the right to seek refuge in the U.S. is no longer inviolable.

After the expiration of this action Thursday, the Biden administration intends to introduce a new set of measures that will serve as a replacement. These measures are designed to replicate Title 42 and will subject migrants who cross into the U.S. illegally to a more stringent asylum standard, which will be designed to be more difficult for people to meet. Those who are unable to meet these standards will be deported back to their home countries or returned to Mexico, who has agreed to continue accepting them.

Mr. Mayorías has outlined his intention to establish “lawful, safe, orderly pathways” for immigrants before they reach the border. This will involve denying entry and imposing several years of entry bans on migrants who arrive illegally.

“If you do not qualify for relief, you will be removed quickly. And you will face a bar of at least five years to admission,” he said.

This is the latest attempt by successive administrations to address the chaotic situation at the southern border, which has only worsened in the wake of the pandemic. Mr. Biden states that he accepts that an overload of migrants were using the asylum pathway and that returning to pre pandemic rules would only worsen the problem.

The modernized asylum system was first established post-WWII in response to many Jews being turned away by the U.S. after searching for refuge in the midst of persecution. The U.S. was one of many international countries who agreed in several agreements that refugees fleeing for their lives must be permitted to enter countries without having to wait for proper documents. If they waited, they would be persecuted or killed.

 For the first thirty years of the agreement, asylum pathways were only used by Iranian Jews, Soviet Union defectors, and Chinese citizens who were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

In 2014, the situation changed when tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and families from Central America arrived at the Southern border seeking refuge. Since then, millions of asylum seekers have entered the country through the border. 

For the last decade, the successive administrations have tried to create strategies to put a hand on the spiraling situations. Most strategies were unsuccessful.

While most members of Congress agree that the current system is flawed, there is a wide range of opinions on how to address it. Many conservative Republicans agree that fewer to no immigrants should be permitted into the country, while centrists aim to redirect many of the migrants into new, low-wage visa programs.

For nearly a decade, Republicans in Congress have tried to stop the influx of migrants by making changes to the law, but they have been repeatedly opposed by Democrats.

Title 42 achieved the objective of turning away asylum seekers without changing the law. Although the policy went against President Biden’s campaign promise, it proved to be an effective way to prevent waves of immigrants into the U.S.

Angela Kelly, a former senior immigration advisor to the Biden administration stated that, “We lack a modernized border management system that can process asylum seekers fairly and quickly. I think that Title 42 really exposed that hole in our system and made it hard to undo.”

The policy was not a good enforcement tool on the ground because it depended heavily on Mexico to determine which asylum seekers should be expelled. It actually made it easier for migrants who had no intention of seeking asylum to make multiple crossings until they entered the country undetected which led to a spike in arrests. 

Biden receives opposition and criticism from many Democrats saying that simply not offering asylum to those in need is not righteous. Others are in a frenzy as the end of Title 42 approaches, saying that their states are not prepared and the migrants will be in a crisis in under a week.