Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Biden faces tough road to US immigration reform: experts | Joe Biden News

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Washington DC – US President Joe Biden is expected to issue a series of new immigration orders in the coming days. reverse policies defended by his predecessor, Donald Trump, in particular as regards asylum on the United States-Mexico border and the reunification of migrant families.

Biden took office last month after winning the support of progressives and immigrant communities by promising, among other things, to trim Trump’s tough stance against immigration.

Tom Jawetz, an immigration expert at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said Biden faces a tough road to overturn the legacy of the Trump administration, which over the past four years has adopted a complete and interconnected barrier system.

Reversing these measures, some of which have been ruled illegal by U.S. courts, could take months, if not years – even if Biden takes executive action, Jawetz told Al Jazeera.

“There is so much that they have done comprehensively to prevent people from accessing the protections accorded to them under US and international law – that you cannot single out a single piece of legislation,” Jawetz said. .

“Their overlapping nature means any one of them can have a significant effect on their own,” he said. “All must be resolved.”

Migrants deported from the United States walk to Mexico at the Paso del Norte International Border Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico [Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

‘Modernize’ immigration

Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden would sign executive orders on Tuesday to “modernize” the U.S. immigration system.

Since taking office, Biden has signed executive measures stopping construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border, revoking what is known as “Muslim ban” travel restrictions and the preservation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that granted status to undocumented migrants who arrived in the United States as children.

But he should go even further, after promising a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, a move that has sparked cautious optimism immigration advocates.

Psaki said Biden’s candidate for head of the US Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who is expected to be confirmed on Tuesday, would lead a new task force that will work to reunite migrant families who have been separated at the US border. -Mexican under “Trump’s zero”. tolerance ”.

A general view shows a section of the border fence between Mexico and the United States at the Anapra neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico [Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

As part of the policy, which was halted, adults crossing the border into the United States without a permit have been criminally prosecuted and more than 5,400 children have been separated from their parents under the Trump administration. Many of them were placed in detention centers before being relocated to foster families, which sparked public outcry.

More … than 600 children would still be separated from their parents, according to court documents.

Wait in Mexico

Full details of Biden’s upcoming immigration actions have yet to be released.

However, according to a recording and memo from the Biden transition team obtained by the Reuters news agency, Biden is expected to cancel the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPPs), a program that has forced at least 70,000 Asylum seekers since 2019 to return to Mexico while they wait for dates from the US immigration court.

Migrant advocates criticized “Stay in Mexico” policy, which they say has exposed thousands of migrants, including children, to threats of exploitation, kidnapping and sexual assault in border towns controlled by drug cartels.

A United States Customs and Border Protection officer monitors unmarried adult male detainees at a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas, USA [File: Veronica G Cardenas/Reuters]

The memo did not say whether Biden planned to speed up or prioritize the demands of people waiting in Mexico, a central demand from immigrant rights groups.

According to the memo, Biden is also expected to scrap the deals the Trump administration has made with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – three countries plagued by chronic poverty, crime and violence – to help fight against migration to the United States.

In return for financial incentives, the three Central American countries signed agreements with Washington, known as ACA, which allowed US authorities to return migrants whose asylum claims had been rejected – and which had crossed these three countries to get to the United States.

According to Human Rights Watch, 939 asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador, mostly women and children, were transferred to Guatemala from November 2019 to March 2020 – when the agreements were broken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Trump administration broke US asylum law, reduced the ability for people to even seek asylum and when they do, [made] they’re waiting in a foreign country, ”Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, told Al Jazeera.

But although Biden has promised to end many of Trump’s sweeping immigration policies, Nowrasteh said some may prove more difficult to reverse.

“The administration will only reverse border policies if it can ensure that an orderly system takes its place,” he said. “And that’s the problem they’re going to face, the problem they’re going to have to solve.”

Just days after Joe Biden took office, around 7,000 migrants, mostly from Honduras, began marching to the United States. [Luis Echeverria/Reuters]

Migrant caravans

Starting in 2018, thousands of people from Central America fleeing poverty, gang violence, and lack of employment opportunities joined the migrant caravans and headed, mostly on foot, to the United States to seeking asylum.

A year later, in 2019, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico if he didn’t stop migrants from heading north. In response, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent thousands of National Guard soldiers to monitor its southern border and prevent migrants from crossing.

Jessica Vaughan, director of political studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a research group that advocates for less immigration to the United States, said Biden would not reverse policies that force Central American countries to prevent migrants to head to the United States.

“They know it will be a disaster very quickly if they lift Trump’s policies,” Vaughan said. “Biden’s statement and rhetoric to date has already sparked a new wave of migrants trying to get to our southern border because they believe they will be allowed in and stay.”

Just days after Biden took office, around 7,000 migrants, mostly from Honduras, began marching to the United States. Law enforcement officers in riot gear blocked and dispersed the crowd Guatemala, and returned most to Honduras – where deadly hurricanes and economic fallout from COVID-19 restrictions have pushed thousands to the brink of poverty.

During the election campaign and in the latest memo from his transition team, Biden spoke of addressing the “root causes” of migration, which may include funding economic programs in Latin America.

The memo also stated that Biden planned to tighten asylum protections. Rights groups say this may involve setting up treatment sites in Central America so that people who need urgent protection from political persecution, gang threats or domestic violence, don’t not have to make dangerous journeys to the US border.

Last week, a Texas federal judge blocked Biden’s decision to freeze evictions for 100 days, a priority for his administration, arguing the need for a “ concrete ” and “ reasonable ” justification for a such measure. [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

Rule of “public charge”

Also on Biden’s agenda, according to the memo, overturning Trump’s “public charge” rule, which allowed the U.S. government to deny immigrants the right to enter the country or acquire legal status if they were likely to need public benefits to live in the United States.

Biden is also expected to consult Congress on his pledge to raise the annual refugee resettlement cap to 125,000, from a record high of 15,000 refugees set by Trump for fiscal 2021.

Although critics of Biden say his actions have been drastic and sudden, there are signs that his holistic approach to migration is in line with current attitudes. In a poll last year, 77% of Americans called immigration a “good thing” for the country, up 20% from the previous decade.

But advocates say Trump’s immigration policies are likely to have a lasting effect, as even a complete reversal of those policies through executive action could take months to be felt by immigrants.

Some of Biden’s proposals have already been rejected.

A Texas federal judge last week blocked Biden’s decision to freeze evictions for 100 days, a priority for his administration, arguing that a “concrete” and “reasonable” justification was needed for such a measure.

In a similar move last week, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, authorized a Trump rule – which allowed the swift deportation of unaccompanied children, without due process and even in cases where the child flees a danger to his life – to stay in place.

“Migration is a phenomenon, it is a reality,” Jawetz said. “Sound American policy that works constructively can begin to address some of these issues,” he said, adding that while Biden is likely to face a multitude of obstacles, “he’s off to a good start.” .


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