By Ted Hesson
WASHINGTON2 Dec – US President Joe Biden’s administration would make it more difficult to seek asylum at the Mexican border in view of several plans under consideration that have similarities to policies promoted by former President Donald Trump.
Two Department of Homeland Security officials and a person familiar with the matter said the administration is discussing fast-track regulation to deny asylum to single adult migrants if they don’t first seek protection in other countries.
The sources said they have not seen a copy of the proposed regulation, so they could not provide further details.
Since Biden took office in January 2021, his administration has faced, both operationally and politically, a record number of migrants illegally crossing the US-Mexico border.
US border authorities made 2.2 million arrests of migrants at the border in fiscal 2022 that ended Sept. 30, though many of those included people who repeatedly crossed the border.
Another US official said the Biden administration is also considering other Trump-era deterrents, including for Border Patrol agents to conduct expedited asylum reviews.
Another possibility was to ramp up a practice known as “counter-counting,” which limits the number of migrants who can approach a port of entry to claim asylum, this official said.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said on Friday that no decision had been made to make changes to the policy.
Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump, a Republican, in the 2020 presidential election by vowing to undo his predecessor’s hardline immigration policies and “reaffirm America’s commitment to asylum seekers and refugees.”
The policies being considered, if adopted, would drastically undercut those promised and have already raised concerns among immigration advocates. Trump’s similar policies have been challenged in court and reversed.
To obtain asylum in the United States, immigrants entering the country must demonstrate that they seek protection from persecution elsewhere due to their race, religion, national origin, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.
Axios first reported on discussions of a new asylum ban earlier this week. The other measures under consideration have not been previously disclosed.
Following the Axios news, a Biden official said in a statement that the United States will seek to speed asylum processing times, dismantle smuggling networks that prey on immigrants, and work with other countries in the region to manage the flow of immigrants.
Republicans, who are expected to take control of the US House of Representatives in January, have attacked Biden’s handling of the border and threatened to remove his top official, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Last month, a US federal judge overturned a border order by the COVID-19 known as Title 42. Implemented in March 2020 under the Trump administration, it allowed authorities to quickly deport migrants caught crossing the border without giving them an opportunity to claim asylum.
The judge postponed the effective date of the ruling to December 21 to give border authorities time to prepare. A week later, a coalition of states with Republican attorneys general launched a legal challenge to reverse the decision.
The administration is bracing for the possibility of 9,000 to 14,000 immigrants a day trying to cross the border if Title 42 is revoked, one of the Department of Homeland Security officials told Reuters, about double the recent daily record.