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Rights Advocates Condemn Biden’s ‘Draconian’ Asylum Restrictions At US-Mexico Border

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Immigrant rights advocates have criticized President Joe Biden’s new restrictions on asylum at the United States-Mexico border, calling the policy “the most draconian” move since he took office in 2021.

During a news conference on Thursday, Azadeh Erfani, a senior policy analyst at the National Immigrant Justice Center, stated that Biden’s recent executive order violates both US and international law, as it will return people with valid asylum claims to harm.

“Any person, including families with children, who seeks asylum between US ports of entry” will be affected by the new regulations, Erfani said.

“This applies right now — in the middle of a global displacement crisis, the worst we’ve seen since World War II — and will decimate asylum access in the foreseeable future.”

Biden’s executive order, effective from early Wednesday, allows his administration to stop processing asylum claims if irregular crossings at the US-Mexico border exceed an average of 2,500 per day for a week.

The order includes exemptions for unaccompanied minors and individuals identified as victims of human trafficking.

However, seeking asylum is a right under both US and international law, regardless of how individuals enter US territory. Biden had campaigned on a promise to uphold the country’s “moral responsibility” at the border and enforce immigration laws with dignity.

In a 2019 social media post criticizing former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance, Biden pledged not to “turn away those fleeing violence, war & poverty.”

But as the number of migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter the US at the Mexico border surged last year, Biden faced pressure from Republicans to adopt a tougher stance on unauthorized crossings.

This week’s order comes five months before Biden is set to face off against Trump in November’s presidential election, a race expected to be close.

The executive order also coincides with a new rule from the Department of Homeland Security and the US Attorney General that further tightens asylum procedures.

The new rule introduces three changes to existing asylum policy. Notably, it eliminates a requirement that US immigration officers must inform individuals of their right to seek asylum and ask whether they fear persecution, according to a fact sheet by the American Immigration Council.

Instead, asylum seekers must now express a fear of persecution themselves or inform US officers of their desire to seek asylum, a process advocates refer to as the “shout test.”

Only then would they receive a “credible fear interview,” where asylum applicants are expected to demonstrate a need for protection.

The Biden administration’s new rule also raises the threshold that applicants must meet during the interview to qualify for asylum.

Erfani explained that the aim is “for people to fail these screenings and get deported as fast as possible.”

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