The Biden administration announced new restrictions on migrants who attempt to apply for asylum at the United States border, which many commentators are comparing to former President Trump’s policies.
The Department of Homeland Security announced the new rule, which is sure to be challenged in court.
The rule would prevent migrants who arrive by land from requesting asylum if they haven’t already requested protections in another country they passed through on their way to the United States.
The new rule is meant to pair with the administration’s proposed new system that would allow asylum seekers to apply for permission to enter the United States from their home countries.
According to The Hill, Democrat Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY) and Pramila Jayapal (WA) issued a joint statement to express their disappointment with Biden’s plans.
“The ability to seek asylum is a bedrock principle protected by federal law and should never be violated. We should not be restricting legal pathways to enter the United States, we should be expanding them. Last month, we saw the positive impact new legal pathways can have on irregular migration. We hope the Biden administration will reconsider much of this proposed rule,” they said.
Immigration activists similarly scoffed at the administration’s characterization of the plan as moderate, instead negatively comparing them to the former Trump administration’s travel ban.
“This rule will give those seeking refuge the presumption of ineligibility to seek safe-haven in the United States—and it is unconscionable, unacceptable, and un-American,” said Representative Lou Correa (CA), the top Democrat on the House Border Security Subcommittee.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pushed back on the criticism that his plan is a transit ban, instead referring to it as “a rebuttable presumption of ineligibility.”
A senior administration official told reporters the plan was not their “first preference or even our second”, saying the program and new rule are meant to be temporary actions while Congress acts on immigration.
The administration’s assurances have not convinced immigration advocates.
“We successfully sued to block the Trump asylum bans and will sue again if the Biden administration goes through with its plan to enact a ban,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.