The past two days have been chaotic for asylum seekers as President Biden countered the end of Title 42 with the introduction of a new asylum restriction rule, which has been finalized after first being proposed in February.
The final asylum rule, which has been published in the federal register, took effect May 11, just as Title 42 came to an end.
On Thursday, the Biden administration also reduced the time asylum seekers have to find an attorney from 48 hours to 24 hours, following their arrival at a Department of Homeland Security facility.
What’s in the new rule?
The rule establishes a “rebuttable presumption of ineligibility for asylum” for individuals who enter the United States from Mexico over the next two years after passing through another country after departing their own.
Also Read: What is Title 42 and Why is it Ending?
Some people are exempted from this “presumption of asylum ineligibility,” including unaccompanied children; those who enter the U.S. via parole; those who enter at a port of entry with a pre-scheduled appointment; and those who sought asylum in a different country and were denied.
People are still allowed to rebut the “presumption of asylum ineligibility” in “exceptionally compelling circumstances,” such as “acute medical emergency,” “imminent and extreme threat to life and safety,” and a “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons.”
At its core, this means that unless migrants secure an appointment to seek asylum at a port of entry, they will not be eligible to seek asylum.
To get an appointment at a port of entry, migrants must use the CBP One app, which the Biden administration had been using since January to allow migrants to be exempted from the now-expired Title 42.
Migrants have been encountering technical problems with the apps, often spending weeks before being able to get an appointment. Read the rule in full here.
Criticisms of Biden’s new asylum restriction
Critics have said the Biden administration is depending too much on attempting to deter migrants from reaching the border, rather than addressing the underlying causes of migration. In other words, this new policy is another way the president has returned to the strategy of his predecessor, as opposed to working with Congress to reform a dysfunctional framework.
“As [Title 42] is ending, we are seeing another Trump-like policy come back in its place at our southern border,” said Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of New York Immigration Coalition at a rally in New York City’s Hall park, Thursday.
In the local scene in New York
Elected officials and advocates joined NYIC in City Hall park criticizing Mayor Eric Adams’ administration for failing to put in place long term solutions for migrants arriving in New York; and suspending parts of the decades-old right-to-shelter mandates.
They called on Adams to evolve his response from an emergency strategy to a permanent one; coordinate with local municipalities and community-based organizations to move people from shelters to permanent housing.
“Over 99% of the dollars that the city has spent for asylum seekers has just gone to emergency shelters. Well less than 1% has gone to the assistance and support and services that would help people get out of shelter,” said NYC Comptroller Brad Lander.
City Councilmember Shahana Hanif, who is chair of the Committee on Immigration, questioned why after a year the City has been scrambling to figure out what housing looks like. The second priority is expanding the budget for immigration legal services to $70 million, Hanif said.
“The $5 million that the administration has been talking about has not been allocated. I asked yesterday, how much has the admin spent on providing legal services for asylum seekers, that number is zero,” she said.
City Council member Carlina Rivera criticized Adams for announcing a new emergency shelter would place families and their children in a gymnasium and an old police academy without letting elected officials who represent the area know what is going on.
“How are we supposed to work together,” Rivera said. “How are we supposed to put together messaging so people can understand that we have the resources in $106 billion budget to do the right thing?”
Emma Kreyche from the Workers Justice Center of New York, which provides critical legal services to immigrant communities across the Hudson Valley and upstate New York, criticized Rockland and Orange Counties for barring the arrival of migrants who chose to relocate from New York City.
“We are here to profoundly reject the xenophobic rhetoric embraced and perpetuated by certain political leaders in the Hudson Valley,” she said. ”They do not represent who we are in the Hudson Valley, nor do they reflect the value we place on the lives of immigrants and refugees that help our upstate communities thrive.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against Rockland and Orange Counties, arguing they violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Constitution.