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Migrant advocates slam Biden for embracing Trump’s ‘cruel’ policy

Immigrants stop at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on August 13, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. (Photo by AFP)

Immigration advocates have criticized US President Joe Biden's immigration policy, more recently characterized by the expulsion of asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, as being "cruel, unlawful and ineffective."

In a letter Friday to Biden and other senior officials, more than 100 organizations urged the US president to allow migrants to claim asylum in the United States and reverse any new policies that would infringe upon their rights. 

Biden, a Democrat, had promised to quickly reverse many harsh aspects of the immigration agenda of his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump. However, he has maintained an order known as Title 42, which allows US authorities to expel migrants caught crossing the southern border back to Mexico.

The U-turn has prompted some members of Congress to press Biden to end Title 42. Immigrant advocates have also accused the administration of doing the exact opposite of what the president had promised on the campaign trail.

Commenting on the issue, international lawyer Barry Grossman said President Biden probably never intended to make good on his promise to reverse Trump's immigration policies. 

“I think many people have realized that campaign promises are merely a marketing exercise to get people to cast their vote in favor of a candidate,” Grossman told Press TV in an interview.

“When it comes to immigration, it’s very interesting how Democrats were highly critical of Trump’s policy on immigration, but the fact is Democrats have embraced exact policy on immigration for many years,” he added.

"The US bureaucracy," he said, "is misusing the existing laws in order to turn people away at the border."  

Border arrests have risen to 20-year highs in recent months. The administration has defended the approach, saying the expulsions are necessary to keep US detention centers from becoming overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigration advocacy groups urged Biden not to force migrants to wait in Mexico while their cases are being processed in the United States. The policy, they said, “would unquestionably put individuals in danger and violate US asylum law.”

The Biden administration is even defending some of Trump’s far-reaching and restrictive immigration measures in courts.

In some cases, Biden’s team has argued that policies put in place by Chad Wolf, who was acting Homeland Security secretary under Trump, were legal, even though a federal judge has ruled that Wolf unlawfully served in that position because he was never confirmed by the Senate.

Last week, the administration began putting some Central American and Mexican migrants arrested at the southern border in flights back to Mexico in an effort to deter more border crossings.

In their letter to Biden, the advocacy groups said they were "gravely concerned" about the flights and reports that migrants were then bused to a remote part of Guatemala.

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center, the flights confirmed that Biden is more concerned with arrests and deportation than the rights of the asylum seekers.

"That absolutely contradicts what the Biden administration said they were going to do," she said.


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