Awareness - January 10, 2023 - We Welcome

Awareness - January 10, 2023

President Biden announces border security and enforcement proposal

On Thursday, President Biden announced a new policy focused on increasing security at the border with Mexico and reducing the number of individuals crossing between ports of entry. This proposal aims to expand legal pathways to the U.S., impose new consequences for individuals attempting to enter unlawfully, surge resources and expand efforts to securely manage the border, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and increase support for communities and organizations that receive migrants waiting for their immigration enforcement proceedings. 

Included in the policy is the expansion of a humanitarian parole program that was implemented for Venezuelans in October to Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Haitians. The U.S. will accept 30,000 individuals per month from these countries. This parole program allows immigrants to live and work in the U.S. for two years if they have an eligible sponsor living in the U.S. and pass numerous background checks. They can now apply for the program through an online application to make an appointment. This will cut down on wait times and crowding at ports of entry. Individuals who attempt to cross the border between ports of entry will be ineligible for humanitarian parole and will be subject to expulsion to Mexico, whose government has agreed to accept returns of 30,000 people per month from these four countries. This implements the use of a Trump-era transit ban and expands the use of Title 42 to these countries who had previously been exempt from the pandemic-era policy. 

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that the policies set forth by President Biden are “not in line with refugee law standards.” According to the reports on the policy, it would deny migrants the chance to seek asylum in the U.S. if they crossed the border without permission. The agency is also concerned with the expansion of Title 42 and has continued to call for the policy to be lifted.

Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, acknowledges President Biden’s efforts to face the challenges at the border and notes that the proposal includes some positive aspects, but there are still significant concerns. The increased use of humanitarian parole will contribute to a more orderly border process, but the proposed transit ban and continued implementation of Title 42 is problematic. She also addresses the fact that people with limited means will not be able to access humanitarian parole. “Ultimately, the president and Congress still need to work together to adopt much-needed immigration reforms — including, but not limited to, the border — to solve the challenges we face,” Murray stated.

President Biden also pointed out that the new policy will not fix the problems at the border completely and that it is necessary for Congress to work on finding a solution for meaningful immigration reform. “The actions we are announcing today will make things better but will not fix the border problem completely,” he said. “That work will not be done unless and until the Congress enacts and funds a more comprehensive immigration plan that I proposed on day one.”

President Biden visits the border in El Paso

President Biden visited the port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso on Sunday, marking the first time in his two years in office that he has taken a trip to the border. On this visit he watched border officials in El Paso demonstrate how they search vehicles for drugs, money, and other contraband. He then walked along the border fence that separates El Paso and the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. He also visited the El Paso County Migrant Services Center but there were no migrants there at the time. According to El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, there is a current lull in arrivals at the border, therefore President Biden did not get an accurate picture of the actual reality at the border. 

Migrants are asking the President to listen to the people on the Mexican side of the border. Julio Marquez from Venezuela believes he has a case for seeking asylum, but has no way to do so at the moment because he and his partner, Yalimar Chirinos, do not have a U.S. sponsor. "They're constantly changing the laws, every week,” noted Chirinos. Marquez added that they are suffering in Mexico and would prefer to be deported back to Venezuela rather than being returned to Mexico. "We hope he helps us, that he lets us pass, since we're suffering a lot here in Mexico," said Marquez. "He has to listen to the people on this side."

The refugee data for December has been released

The number of refugees admitted into the U.S. in December increased by 9.6% for a total of 2,403 admissions. This brings the total number of refugees admitted for fiscal year 2023 to 6,750 putting the country on pace to admit 27,000 refugees this year, significantly below the cap of 125,000. The Democratic Republic of Congo remains the top sending country with 771 refugees arriving in December. The number of arrivals from Afghanistan doubled from 169 in November to 368 and only 69 arrived from Ukraine. The number of people arriving with special immigrant visas decreased slightly to 935