Immigration and border security have become divisive issues in Florida and around the country, and efforts to address these problems are routinely criticized by immigrant advocacy groups and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle. On Feb. 21, the Biden administration announced a new measure that officials hope will ease congestion at the southern border and provide safe passage for immigrants with legitimate asylum claims, and it was quickly condemned by groups including the International Refugee Assistance Project, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
The proposal imposes new restrictions on asylum seekers and speeds up the deportation process for immigrants who cross the border illegally. The proposed measures would penalize immigrants who fail to seek asylum in countries they pass through on their way to the United States, which advocacy groups say mirrors a Trump administration policy that became known as the “transit ban.” The Trump measure, which was struck down by the courts, denied asylum to all but Mexican immigrants.
White House officials responded to these criticisms by claiming that the proposed immigration rule would protect immigrants by deterring them from making a dangerous, and often fruitless, journey, which is the same argument Trump officials made in 2019. The Biden administration says their rule is different because it does not apply to unaccompanied children and includes several humanitarian exemptions.
Meet the new boss
President Biden promised to undo the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies during his election campaign, but it appears he is content to merely soften their edges. There can be no doubt that the situation at the southern border is rapidly becoming a crisis in some people’s estimation, but rehashing policies that punish immigrants without addressing underlying issues is not an adequate solution.