The Biden administration is seriously considering an asylum proposal that would bar migrants from seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border if they could have received refuge in another country they passed through, mirroring Trump-era asylum limits, according to two sources familiar with discussions.
Officials are bracing for an influx of migrants trying to cross into the United States when the controversial public health authority, known as Title 42, ends in three weeks, and are weighing multiple plans to stem the flow of migrants.
The latest proposal, first reported by The New York Times, was included in a memo sent from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House, one of the sources said. The proposal has not received final approval and would still need to go through the rulemaking process before it is implemented, the source said.
But if adopted, it would be reminiscent of a policy put in place during the Trump administration that dramatically limited the ability of migrants to claim asylum in the US if they resided or traveled through other countries prior to coming to the US. At the time, the policy garnered wide condemnation from immigrant advocates.
“The administration is committed to continuing to secure our borders while maintaining safe, orderly and humane processing of migrants. This will remain the case when Title 42 is lifted. Press reports that indicate US policy will change are inaccurate; no such decisions have been made,” Marsha Espinosa, a DHS spokeswoman, said.
CNN previously reported that the Department of Homeland Security is preparing for multiple scenarios, including projections of between 9,000 to 14,000 migrants a day who may attempt to cross the US southern border when a Trump-era border policy ends in late December, more than double the current number of people crossing.
Title 42 was invoked at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and has been fiercely criticized by immigrant advocates and public health experts who argue the authority has been used as a pretext to largely bar migrants from entering the country.
Border authorities used the public health restrictions to expel migrants nearly 2.5 million times in less than three years. But last month, a federal judge struck down the restrictions. US District Judge Emmet Sullivan put his ruling on hold until midnight on December 21.
DHS officials are pulling from border plans released over the spring to prepare for the end of Title 42, including, for example, considering additional soft-sided facilities to process migrants.
The department is also accelerating asylum processing times, doubling down on anti-smuggling operations and coordinating with partners in the Western hemisphere, according to an administration official.