Posted on January 26, 2023

Some Congressional Democrats Push Back on Biden’s Immigration Policies

Eileen Sullivan, New York Times, January 26, 2023

More than 70 Democrats in the House and the Senate urged President Biden on Thursday to reconsider his policies that limit access to asylum as a way to manage illegal migration at the southern border.

“We encourage your administration to stand by your commitment to restore and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter, echoing pledges Mr. Biden made during the 2020 campaign.

Restrictions put in place by the Trump administration, including a pandemic-era public health measure known as Title 42, have drastically reduced migrants’ access to asylum at the southern border. The Biden administration announced this month that it would expand its use of Title 42 to immediately expel migrants from certain countries who had previously been allowed to stay in the United States temporarily and apply for asylum.

“We are therefore distressed by the deeply inconsistent choice to expand restrictions on asylum seekers,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Alex Padilla of California, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Greg Casar of Texas and Raúl Grijalva of Arizona.


In addition to limiting access to asylum for more migrants, the Biden administration simultaneously created 30,000 slots a month for a sponsor-based humanitarian parole program for migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.


The administration has said it also plans to introduce another broader measure that would restrict access to asylum for people who cross illegally without first applying for humanitarian relief in another country along the way to the United States.

Immigration advocates and Democrats, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, say the proposal is similar to a widely condemned policy used during the Trump administration. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus told the homeland security secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, that they were frustrated with the lack of consultation before the policy announcement. {snip}