President Biden said Thursday the US would immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans who cross the border from Mexico illegally, his boldest move yet to confront the arrivals of migrants that have spiraled since he took office two years ago. The new rules expand on an existing effort to stop Venezuelans attempting to enter the US, which began in October and led to a dramatic drop in Venezuelans coming to the southern border. Together, they represent a major change to immigration rules that will stand even if the Supreme Court ends a Trump-era public health law that allows US authorities to turn away asylum-seekers, the AP reports.
"Do not, do not just show up at the border," Biden said as he announced the changes, even as he acknowledged the hardships that lead many families to make the dangerous journey north. "Stay where you are and apply legally from there," he advised. Biden plans to visit El Paso, Texas, on Sunday for his first trip to the southern border as president. From there, he will travel to Mexico City to meet with North American leaders on Monday and Tuesday. Homeland Security officials said they would begin denying asylum to those who circumvent legal pathways and do not first ask for asylum in the country they traveled through en route to the US.
Instead, the US will accept 30,000 people per month from the four nations for two years and offer the ability to work legally to those who arrived legally, have eligible sponsors, and pass vetting and background checks. Crossings by migrants from those four nations have risen most sharply, with no easy way to quickly return them to their home countries. "This new process is orderly," Biden said. "It's safe and humane, and it works." The move drew swift criticism from asylum and immigration advocates. "President Biden correctly recognized today that seeking asylum is a legal right and spoke sympathetically about people fleeing persecution," said Jonathan Blazer of the American Civil Liberties Union. “But the plan he announced further ties his administration to the poisonous anti-immigrant policies of the Trump era instead of restoring fair access to asylum protections."
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