Biden's Border Policies Dealt a Blow by the Court

The U.S. has seen a huge surge in illegal crossings through the southern border for the last three years. In 2022 alone, the U.S. immigration authorities had approximately 2.83 encounters with illegal immigrants, the highest number recorded in history. 

According to critics of the administration, the soft stance on illegal immigration adopted by the administration has contributed to the increase in illegal border crossings.

Under the Biden administration, the controversial "Remain in Mexico" protocol, which required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their applications were adjudicated in the U.S., was initially terminated. However, in response to an unprecedented surge in illegal border entries, the administration reinstated the protocol, reflecting an adaptive approach towards immigration control and border management.

New Restrictions

Early this year, the Biden administration enacted new restrictions even as the president works towards ending Title 42, a health law introduced by the Trump administration to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through the borders. 

In place of Title 42, the Biden administration hoped to reinstate Title 8 and many other toughened immigration rules, including imprisonment and fines for illegal border crossers. The new rules also allow 30,000 humanitarian parole entries for Haitian, Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans who have U.S. sponsors and work visas for up to two years.

Opposition to the Changes

This move is seen by many as a huge departure from the Biden administration's soft stance on illegal immigration. But the new changes have not gone down well with democratic legislators, with over 80 signing an open letter to the president urging him to reverse the restrictions. 

According to the legislators, the administration must remain committed to upholding national and international law by protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

Court Ruling

Despite the protests from democratic legislators, the Biden administration enforced the new policy starting in May of 2023. However, that was not the end of its problems, as human advocacy groups went to court to challenge the policy. 

After months of legal battles in the federal court, the district court dealt a blow to the administration by striking down the policy. When making the ruling, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern California’s U.S. District Court in stayed his decision for 14 days allowing the immigration department to appeal. 

In the meantime, the new immigration policies stay in place, affecting thousands of asylum seekers hoping to enter the United States. 

A Drastic Drop in Illegal Immigration

The new policy changes have greatly affected the number of asylum seekers reaching the southern border. Before the changes took effect on May 11, immigration officials encountered approximately 7,500 illegal entry attempts, putting significant strain on immigration officials and border communities. 

Since the policy changes, illegal immigrant encounters have dropped to 3,000 daily. While the numbers are still historically high, they represent over a 50 percent decline in illegal crossing from the beginning of the year. 

"The new policies require asylum seekers coming through the southern border to wait in Mexico as they await the adjudication of their asylum application. The problem with this approach is the heightened risk of violence in Mexico by state and cartels," says Attorney Mario Godoy of Godoy Law Office Immigration Lawyers.

It is not possible to predict what will happen in the near future. But the Biden administration will likely fight to keep the policies in place as its border management is expected to be a hot topic in the 2024 elections in which Biden has expressed interest in running.

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