For President Joe Biden, the border crisis is a persistent problem plaguing his presidency. He is fully aware that unchecked border crossings, while popular among the progressives, are costing him support among Independents and moderate Democrats.
Stopping the wave of illegal immigration created by the administration will be difficult, but Biden outlined a plan to help close the floodgates at the border. In January of 2023, he announced a “parole” program, requiring immigrants to schedule an appointment via the CPP One app or have a sponsor legally residing in the United States. Additionally, to claim “asylum” status, migrants would have to seek protection in another country along the way to the border.
Immigrants who fail to abide by these rules are deemed “ineligible” to claim asylum unless they can prove imminent safety concerns or serious health conditions. In effect, Biden tightened restrictions while offering a legal pathway into the United States.
If the plan sounds familiar, it should. It was former president Donald Trump’s strategy to discourage illegals from storming the border. It is an iteration of Trump’s wildly successful Remain in Mexico policy, which was one of the first things Biden torched on day one of his presidency.
Asylum requests have skyrocketed to an astounding 1.5 million, largely made up of migrants claiming fear of entering the U.S. and living “legally” for many years until a hearing. Many asylum seekers fail to prove their case, but staffing shortages and policies make it difficult to deport them.
In 2018, a California U.S. District Judge, Jon S. Tigar, tried to block Trump’s policy of denying asylum to those crossing the border illegally. In 2019, he attempted to block another Trump policy that required alleged “asylum” seekers to seek refuge in countries they passed through on the way to the U.S. border.
Biden’s resurrection of Trump’s policies has faced extreme criticism from the progressives in his party and civil rights leaders. Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) advised Biden to “abandon this misguided policy now.” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President of Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, claimed that the new rules “reach into the dustbin of history to resurrect one of the most harmful and illegal anti-asylum policies of the Trump administration.” And Sergio Gonzalez, president of the Immigration Hub, claimed the rules “fly in the face” of Biden’s campaign promises.
While vastly different from the progressive left’s wishes, the plan seems to be working. In June, border apprehensions dropped to the lowest monthly tally since the president took office. At 99,545, apprehensions in June were down 42% from May’s numbers.
But now, the policy has been called into question once again by Tigar, an Obama appointee. While Tigar was forced to acknowledge the plan’s efficacy, he sided with advocacy groups claiming that the policies conflicted with the Administrative Procedure Act in three ways. First, he ruled, the restrictions are “arbitrary and capricious.” Secondly, he claims the rules are contrary to federal law. Lastly, ruled Tigar, the public had only 30 days to comment on the policy.
Tigar bases his decision on a federal law stating that it doesn’t matter how migrants enter the United States if they claim persecution from their country of origin. He further ruled that the U.S. government can’t force migrants to seek asylum in countries that are unsafe.
Tigar postponed his ruling from taking effect for 14 days to give the administration ample time to appeal, which it has already done. Until then, it’s full steam ahead for the restrictions.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a news briefing that the asylum rule “remains in full effect.”
In a rare moment of sanity, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that the ruling doesn’t change the DHS’ authority to detain and deport ineligible immigrants. In fact, he doubled down on the policy, stating that immigrants who unlawfully enter the United States will be deported and barred from reentering the country for five years. Additionally, Mayorkas stated illegal immigrants could face criminal prosecution.
It’s important to note that true asylum seekers are escaping persecution based on race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. Contrary to what most border jumpers believe, asylum seekers face legitimate danger in their home countries and aren’t coming to the United States for free benefits and good-paying jobs.
Biden’s centrist approach to border control is a marked shift away from the rabid lunatic fringe within his own party. While it may garner him some support from Independents and moderates, it may be a case of “too little, too late.”