Posted on February 1, 2021

Biden to Rescind Curbs on Asylum Policy Enacted by Trump

Michelle Hackman and Tarini Parti, Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2021

President Biden plans to sign more immigration-related executive actions reversing his predecessor’s policies on asylum seekers and refugees in the coming days, according to people familiar with the plans.

Mr. Biden is expected to issue an order on Friday, though the timing could slip to next week, that lays out a plan to revamp the asylum system, after the Trump administration took numerous steps to restrict access to humanitarian protection in the U.S.

That order would direct the Department of Homeland Security to roll back rules the previous administration enacted to make most asylum applicants at the southern border ineligible. For example, one rule disqualified applicants from asylum if they passed through a third country en route to the U.S. without making a claim in that country.

The order would also freeze agreements that the Trump administration signed with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to send asylum seekers to those countries to request protection there instead.

According to the people familiar with the plans, Mr. Biden is also expected to rescind a memo that created a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which has forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. southern border to return to Mexico and wait, sometimes for years, as the American court system processes their requests.


Another order expected Friday will direct DHS to begin the process of rolling back the public-charge rule, which imposes a wealth test on prospective immigrants.

An order that could be delayed until Monday is likely to direct expansion of refugee processing in Latin America. While a president is permitted to raise the refugee cap this year, experts say it would be logistically difficult to reach the 125,000 figure Mr. Biden promised during his campaign. Former President Donald Trump set the cap on refugees resettled in the U.S. through this coming September at a record-low 15,000.

The White House will also announce the creation of a family reunification task force to deal with the more than 600 children whose parents still haven’t been located after their families were separated during Mr. Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy at the border in 2018. {snip}