The Biden administration unveiled a sweeping policy Thursday to turn back Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border — a move that immigrant rights groups condemned as harmful and punitive.

New policy provides legal entry into the US under humanitarian parole for 30,000 migrants and asylum seekers per month from Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela, the four countries are driving explosive growth in unauthorized immigration in the last few months. Applicants, who can apply by phone, must have a US sponsor and go through a vetting process.

However, the White House also announced that it would take advantage of Title 42, which was used by President Donald Trump to expel immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, to return people from those nations who failed to complete the application process. Instead of passing through, try to cross the border illegally. , Those crossing illegally into Panama or Mexico would automatically be disqualified from the parole program. Venezuelan Diaspora has been rejected Under a similar policy since October.

Immigrant rights advocates were horrified by the move, which they said would deny protection to those who desperately need it.

Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement: “The Biden administration must take steps to restore asylum law at ports of entry, not a double whammy on cruel and adversarial policies from the Trump playbook.” ”

Acer continued, “Every day that these policies are in place, asylum seekers will be subjected to horrific abuses.” “This subversion of human rights and refugee law is a stain on the record of President Biden and his administration that will cause indelible damage to human life, human rights and refugee protection systems globally.”

News of the White House’s new carrot-and-stick approach comes after a steady increase in migrants at the US-Mexico border. NBC News reported in December that Customs and Border Protection caught on average 7,500 to 8,000 migrants per day,

“Demanding protections is treated as a privilege reserved for a select few, and proves the Biden administration’s cherry-picking of who can and cannot receive protections.”

Mary Miller Flowers of the Young Center for the Rights of Immigrant Children

Biden administration officials described the new policy as a way to encourage legal entry into the US

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “Individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States will be subject to immediate removal or expulsion.” “Persons who are provided a safe, orderly and lawful passage to the United States are less likely to risk their lives traveling thousands of miles to the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to find our southern border to arrive at and face the legal consequences of illegal entry.”

Since the start of his presidency, Biden has faced strong criticism over the border from both Republicans and immigrant advocacy groups. Republicans have long argued that the administration has been ineffective on border security, while progressive groups have slammed the White House for its continued use of Title 42 and huge delays in overhauling the immigration system.

“Today’s announcement by President Biden is very different from the commitments he made the day before to fight for racial justice, immigrant rights and family protections,” said Mary Miller Flowers, senior policy analyst at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. a statement.

“The right to asylum should not depend on your ability to escape danger or your financial means,” Flowers continued. “Yet, for too long, seeking security has been treated as a privilege of a select few, and the Biden administration’s cherry-picking of who can and cannot receive security proves that “

Biden will travel to El Paso, Texas, later this week – his first trip to the southern border as president – before traveling to Mexico City on Monday to meet with North American leaders.

Immigrant rights advocates called on Biden to repeal Title 42 entirely rather than enact policies to deny people seeking protections.

“Instead of working directly with service providers at the border, Biden is re-packaging Trump-era asylum ideas,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of the Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights organization. Statement. “It’s not just disappointing, it’s the opposite of what most Americans want for our nation.”

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