Biden’s Border Travesty
Two years into its term, the US administration has failed to deliver on its promise of humane immigration reform. Instead, the White House continues to expel migrants, maintaining and even expanding the use of Donald Trump’s Title 42 policy to strip those who arrive at the border of their right to seek asylum.
CHICAGO – On the eve of US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, immigration advocates were optimistic that the incoming administration would end Title 42, a once-obscure rule that during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed border agents to reject migrants who might otherwise have qualified for asylum. While researching my forthcoming book, Precarious Protections, I interviewed lawyers working with unaccompanied immigrant children in Los Angeles who were confident that the new administration would restore the right to seek asylum in the United States. But that is not what happened.
The notion that asylum seekers are gaming the US immigration system with bogus claims is unfounded. On the contrary, under both of Biden’s predecessors, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, US immigration authorities interpreted the law too narrowly to protect most of the vulnerable children fleeing life-threatening violence in Central America.
But while the Obama administration combined humanitarian measures and enforcement, Trump’s policies explicitly disregarded human rights and the rule of law, setting a dangerous and seemingly long-lasting precedent. Title 42 is a prime example. Justified as an exceptional measure to limit the spread of COVID-19, the policy was never endorsed by epidemiologists. But that did not stop the Trump administration from using it to strip people of the right to seek asylum, which is protected under both US and international law.
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