Even as Biden administration lawyers fight to end a cruel anti-immigrant policy that has been used millions of times to expel asylum seekers, administration officials are seeking to once again expand the policy, this time to ramp up expulsions of asylum seekers from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti.
According to Reuters, officials say that the administration is planning to implement new rules for the asylum seekers under Title 42, modeling the guidelines on the administration’s expansion of the policy for Venezuelans.
Immigration advocates have denounced the policy against Venezuelan asylum seekers — who are escaping political violence and a humanitarian crisis — as inhumane.
The Department of Homeland Security has used the policy to expel thousands of Venezuelans, forcing them to endure dangerous conditions in Mexico, where they face threats of violence and kidnapping along with mounting unrest at the border that has only been exacerbated by Title 42. Denying asylum seekers access to protections in this way is a “flagrant violation” of U.S. refugee laws, Human Rights First wrote in its December report on Title 42.
Advocates have also decried the uneven application of the immigration and asylum bans on people from countries like Venezuela as a show of the racism behind such policies.
Officials have claimed that the policy against Venezuelans is modeled after the government’s policy to welcome Ukrainians. But the National Immigrant Justice Center has pointed out that the policy for Ukrainians is welcoming of those escaping conflict, while the policy for Venezuelans is expressly punitive and is supposed to act as a deterrent.
Officials have also made it extremely difficult for Venezuelans to apply for entry into the U.S. and have placed a limit on the number of Venezuelans who are allowed to enter, but have not placed similar restrictions on Ukrainians.
Immigration advocates are concerned that the new rules would have similar effects on Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians, and have heavily criticized Biden for the expansion.
“The Biden admin expansion of Title 42 to Venezuelans is NO model,” said Eleanor Acer, refugee protection director for Human Rights First. Biden officials should instead “take all steps to end Title 42 —- not expand it to additional nationalities,” she went on.
“Enough is enough. Title 42 expulsions MUST end, not expand,” asylum rights coalition Welcome With Dignity wrote on Twitter. “[POTUS] should be ashamed. Instead of upholding the legal right to seek asylum, he continues Trump’s attacks on asylum seekers.”
But the policy may not be going away any time soon. The Supreme Court ruled this week that it will stay in place until at least February, when the High Court will formally consider the case, blocking a federal judge’s decision to strike down the policy in November.
Though the Biden administration has been attempting to end Title 42 in court, it is still enforcing inhumane anti-immigrant policies, fighting elsewhere to dismiss families’ lawsuits over the cruel family separation policy at the southern border and continuing to detain immigrants in prisons.