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News Americas, New York, NY, Weds. June 5, 2024: US President Joe Biden’s surprising reversal on immigration policy, instituting a broad asylum ban via executive order on migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, has been met with widespread criticism from several immigrant rights groups across the US.

A reporter raises their hand to ask a question after President Joe Biden finishes remarks regarding his executive actions to block migrants’ access to the U.S. asylum system when illegal border crossings are high from the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC on June 04, 2024. (Photo by Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“We are appalled by this announcement,” stated the United Women in Faith and Immigration Law & Justice Network. “As organizations rooted in faith, whose stakeholders include women, immigrants, lawyers, and border communities, we believe all people should be safe from harm, and that every one of us has a responsibility to persons who are fleeing dangerous conditions or certain death.”

The Biden order, which mirrors Trump’s Muslim Ban by invoking Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, undermines due process, fairness, and transparency in the legal system. It permits border agents to deport migrants without processing asylum claims and bars them from re-entry for extended periods. The border shutdown is triggered if more than 2,500 migrants cross in one day, with exceptions for unaccompanied children, those facing serious medical or safety threats, and victims of trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The new asylum ban becomes active when the daily average of border arrests tops 2,500 over a week. Current figures are higher, with U.S. border arrests averaging 4,300 per day in April, according to recent government statistics.

“We challenge the legality of an executive order which prevents asylum seekers from receiving fair and accurate consideration of requests for asylum, a right guaranteed by U.S. law and international law,” added the United Women in Faith and Immigration Law & Justice Network.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) emphasized that Biden’s order places thousands of people escaping life-threatening violence at further risk and trauma. Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, PHR’s Medical Director, stated, “The United States has both a legal and moral obligation to process people exercising their human right to seek asylum on U.S. soil, with safety and dignity.”

“We are gravely concerned by this executive order, which perpetuates a disturbing pattern of blocking and expelling people fleeing life-threatening violence and attempting to exercise their human right to seek safe haven,” she added. “When the United States detains or arbitrarily expels asylum seekers from the country, it not only denies the rights and safety of those seeking asylum, it also constitutes cruel violations of human rights, domestic, and international law.”

The National Immigration Project condemned the order for undermining long-protected rights, including the right to seek asylum. Victoria Neilson, Supervising Attorney at the National Immigration Project, remarked, “With today’s announcement, President Biden has once again betrayed his campaign promises to make the immigration system more humane and just. Efforts to close the border lead to more crossings in dangerous locations. This rule is misguided political theater; by mimicking the worst of Trump’s policies, Biden is alienating his base to appease voters who will never be satisfied. We urge the administration to rescind this unlawful and discriminatory policy.”

Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, (AILA), acknowledged the high migration levels but stressed the need for fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers. He noted, “The consequences of denying a fair and efficient process to apply for asylum to someone who is being persecuted is literally a matter of life or death.”

“Because Congress has decided to stand on the sidelines and watch rather than do its job, the Biden Administration is being forced to face this challenge alone. Unfortunately, without the resources and tools that only Congress can provide, the powers of the Executive Branch alone are insufficient to address the challenges at the border and the results are the creation of policies that put people’s lives at risk, undermine our commitment to human rights, and arguably violate current law,” Johnson added. “We urge the administration to address the uncertainty and insecurity faced by long-time undocumented residents, many of whom are married to U.S. citizens. These American families deserve the administration’s attention even as everyone focuses on the challenges at the border.”

Ironically, Biden, as a candidate in 2019, criticized Trump’s policies during a debate. “This is the first president in the history of the United States of America that anybody seeking asylum has to do it in another country,” Biden said at the time. “That’s never happened before. You come to the United States, and you make your case. That’s how you seek asylum, based on the following premise: why I deserve it under American law.”

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