Biden to roll out new asylum restrictions at U.S.-Mexico border -sources

By Ted Hesson; Edited by News Gate Team

Migrants queue near the border fence, after crossing the Rio Bravo river, to request asylum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 5, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

A member of the Texas National Guard places razor wire on the banks of the Rio Bravo river, the border between the United States and Mexico, with the purpose of reinforcing border security and inhibiting the crossing of migrants into the United States, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico February 16, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
 Migrants under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program stand at the Lerdo-Stanton International Bridge after being returned from the U.S. to Mexico to continue their asylum application, in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, June 30, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) – The Biden administration could bar tens of thousands of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from claiming asylum if they passed through another country en route to the United States without seeking protection, according to a proposed regulation rolling out on Tuesday, five sources told Reuters.

The proposed restrictions, which seek to deter people from crossing the border without authorization, will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and then reviewed before final publication, two of the sources said.

U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is expected to seek re-election in 2024, has struggled operationally and politically to address record numbers of migrants caught crossing the border since he took office two years ago. While Biden initially pledged to restore asylum access that was curtailed under Republican former President Donald Trump, he has increasingly embraced Trump-style restrictions.

Biden’s plan to ban certain asylum seekers mirrors similar efforts under Trump that were blocked by federal courts.

Under the proposed regulation, migrants who fail to use existing legal pathways to the United States or seek protection in transit would be subject to “a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility” unless they qualify for certain exceptions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in January.

The regulation will likely face legal challenges from immigrant rights groups if it takes effect.

The Biden administration began discussing the ban and other Trump-style measures last year as a way to reduce illegal crossings if COVID-era restrictions allowing many migrants to be expelled back to Mexico were ended. The administration is moving ahead with tougher asylum rules as the COVID restrictions, known as Title 42, appear likely to sunset on May 11 when the COVID public health emergency terminates.

“To be clear: this was not our first preference – nor our second,” a source familiar with the planning said, adding that migrants can seek asylum and other legal pathways for entry from abroad and that the White House is urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

By Ted Hesson; Edited by News Gate Team

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