Justo Robles at The Guardian:
As the Title 42 pandemic-era rule ended at midnight on Thursday, Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security and a former Cuban refugee, issued a stern warning to would-be migrants, saying: “People who arrive at the border without using a lawful pathway will be presumed ineligible for asylum.”
In many ways, Mayorkas’s statement directly contradicted some of the promises Joe Biden made as a candidate during the 2020 presidential election. Then Biden had pledged to dismantle Donald Trump’s hardline immigration agenda, calling the numerous restrictions his rival enacted to shut off access to the US asylum system “cruel”.
After taking office, Biden reversed some of Trump’s border policies, including a program that required asylum-seekers to wait in dangerous Mexican border cities while their cases were reviewed by US courts.
But for more than a year, Biden kept, and defended in court, Trump’s most sweeping border restriction: the Title 42 emergency order that allowed agents to cite the Covid-19 pandemic to quickly expel migrants without hearing asylum claims.
The Biden administration in 2022 tried to phase out Title 42, but was blocked by a lawsuit filed by Republicans in 19 states. By the time it ended – due to the expiration of the Covid-19 public health emergency – Title 42 had been used to expel migrants over 2.7m times from the US southern border, according to government statistics.
But Biden is now replacing Title 42 with an arguably tougher, more restrictive policy. His administration on Friday started implementing a rule barring migrants from asylum if they don’t request refugee status in another country before entering the US.
Advocates suggested that such a restriction mimics two Trump-era policies known as the “entry” and “transit” asylum bans which were consequently blocked by courts. As a result, the new restrictive border control has already been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrants’ rights groups in federal court.