Two days after President Joe Biden met with Democratic congressional lawmakers, 77 of those elected officials sent a letter on Jan. 26 urging him to reverse plans to limit asylum access and eligibility on the U.S.–Mexico border.
The letter illustrates the divide among Democrats about how the Biden administration should handle the illegal immigration crisis.
Earlier in January, the Biden administration released a comprehensive plan designed to significantly decrease illegal border crossings, announcing that immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will be returned to Mexico under Title 42 if they illegally enter the country. The plan also provides legal immigration opportunities for vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants with U.S. sponsors.
As part of the Biden administration’s plan, 30,000 migrants from the four nations can apply for asylum protection from their home countries. Mexico has agreed to accept 30,000 each month.
“We believe that your administration can and must continue to expand legal pathways for migrants and refugees into the United States—without further dismantling the right to seek asylum at our border. This right is a pillar of the post-war international order to which the United States has committed itself,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote.
“Instead of issuing a new asylum transit ban and expanding Title 42, we encourage your administration to stand by your commitment to restore and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.”
Created as part of the Public Health Service Act under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, Title 42 was designed to prevent the introduction of contagious diseases in the United States.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Trump administration invoked the order to restrict entry into the United States.
In late December 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the termination of Title 42.
In its decision, the court agreed to hear arguments in February about whether a coalition of Republican-led states can challenge a lower court’s ruling that ordered the Biden administration to end Title 42, which remains in place.