Democrats Urge Biden to Scrap His Stricter Border Policies: 'Asylum Is a Right'

Susan Jones | January 26, 2023 | 10:56am EST
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President Joe Biden met the Border Patrol agents but didn't see a single migrant when he finally visited the border in El Paso on January 8, 2023. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden met the Border Patrol agents but didn't see a single migrant when he finally visited the border in El Paso on January 8, 2023. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

( - A bicameral group of Democrat lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill Thursday, to proclaim that asylum is a right. They want President Biden to end Title 42 and reverse his recent restrictions on asylum-seekers from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela.

"The right to seek asylum is enshrined in domestic and international law," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said, speaking at a podium where a sign read, “Asylum Is a Right.”

“Instead, this administration is making it effectively impossible to seek refuge at our border."

Ocasio-Cortez urged President Biden to listen to the courts and human rights activists and “reverse course." Although Biden's policies are not as draconian as Trump's were, she said, "doing better than Trump shouldn't be the bar."

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the gathering that 80 members of Congress, from both chambers, have signed a letter to President Biden, urging him to restore in-person access to asylum at our southern border.

On January 5, President Biden announced a transit ban for would-be asylum seekers from the four countries mentioned above.

"My message is this," Biden said at the time:

"If you’re trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua, or Haiti...or have agreed to begin a journey to America, do not — do not just show up at the border. Stay where you are and apply legally from there. Starting today, if you don’t apply through the legal process, you will not be eligible for this new parole program.

“Let me reiterate: You need a lawful sponsor in the United States of America, number one. And you need to undergo a rigorous background check, number two. If your application is approved and you show up at a U.S. airport or when and where directed ... you have access. But if your application is denied or you attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, you will not be allowed to enter."

Biden said he can't stop people from making the journey, "but we can require them to come an orderly way under U.S. law."

In his remarks on Thursday, Menendez acknowledged that the United States is experiencing what he called an "immigration challenge."

(In December, Customs and Border Protection counted a record 251,487 people crossing into the United States in that month alone. The chart below shows the dramatic increase in illegal immigration since Biden took office.)

Menendez said Title 42, the public health measure that allows immediate expulsion of undocumented migrants, is responsible for the "revolving door" at the border, where expelled people make repeated attempts to enter the U.S.

And he said the "transit ban" imposed on people from the four countries goes against Biden's earlier outrage at a similar policy imposed by then-President Donald Trump.

Right now, the Biden administration has two options," Menendez said:

"It can continue playing into the hands of extreme, anti-immigrant leaders; individuals who will only be satisfied when they end the asylum system as we know it.

"Or they can return to their original plan of speeding up cases for asylum seekers eliminating the immigration court backlogs, addressing the root causes of immigration and efficiently and legitimately removing people who have no legal claim to stay in the United States.

"The ball is now in their court."

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security tweeted on Wednesday:

"“Encounters of Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan & Venezuelan non-citizens attempting the cross the SW border unlawfully has decreased drastically, putting January on track to see the lowest levels of monthly border encounters since February 2021.”

(Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
(Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)



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