If you come to the U.S. seeking asylum, chances are you’ll get rejected – at least according to Biden’s new immigration policy going into effect any day now.
At midnight last night, Title 42, Trump’s COVID-era immigration policy, ended. In its place is Biden’s new plan to handle the surge at the southern border. The only thing that really differentiates Biden’s plan from Trump’s pre-COVID approach is he’s not openly championing the construction of a border wall (though he’s quietly continuing to build it). Like Trump, he’s literally sent thousands of federal troops to the border, alongside thousands of Texas National Guards.
Now, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It was Biden’s border patrol that chased Haitian immigrants through the Rio Grande on horseback.
What is Title 42?
Title 42 was a COVID-era immigration policy that was passed from Trump to Biden with a handshake in January 2021. Since it’s been in effect, the policy has been used to expel 2.8 million people from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Under the auspices of preventing the spread of COVID, Title 42 gave border patrol broad authority to turn away asylum seekers at the border. This move is steeped in irony, as Trump’s entire approach to fighting the pandemic greatly exacerbated the spread, leading to tens of thousands of needless deaths not just in the U.S. but internationally.
Immigrants rights activists have been pushing for Biden to retire Title 42 for years, citing the human rights abuses that have been carried out under its authority. Unfortunately though, the expiration of Title 42 does not mean the brutality associated with it will end.
Biden’s Plan: Title 42, 2.0
Under Biden’s replacement plan, asylum seekers will have to jump through near-impossible hoops in order to qualify for protections. A petition circulated by 38 immigrants rights organizations alleges that Biden’s plan amounts to an asylum ban. And they’re right.
The plan bars any asylum seeker from gaining protection unless they can prove that they applied for and were denied asylum status in another country on their way to the U.S. For someone coming from Nicaragua, that would mean applying for protection in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador – countries faced with the very conditions they’re fleeing – or Mexico, where the asylum process regularly takes more than 10 months and where migrants are routinely faced with violence.
The other path to protection in the U.S. is if you manage to get an appointment at a port of entry on the new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) smartphone app which is riddled with glitches and errors. This is an obvious deterrent. For the tens or even hundreds of thousands of people seeking to enter the U.S. every month, there are nowhere near enough available appointments, and even getting access to a smartphone and internet is not guaranteed on the treacherous journey to the border.
We Need Justice For All Immigrants!
There are more than 1.5 million asylum seekers currently in the U.S waiting for hearings. They exist in a desperate limbo, with an average wait time of over 1,500 days (more than four years) and very few legal opportunities to work. This creates a permanent underclass of people in this country whose tenuous legal status makes them perfect victims for parasitic corporations to coax into dangerous and unstable work.
Many undocumented immigrants are forced to make money under the table, in often highly exploitative conditions. Others are forced to work for pennies for bosses who routinely hang the threat of deportation over their heads.
Immigration is a highly useful tool for the bosses. They are able to abuse immigrant labor, and they’re also able to use the threat of hiring desperate immigrant workers to force native-born workers to accept low wages and poor working conditions.
Despite the lies of the super rich and corporate rulers, there is absolutely enough wealth in society to meet all of our needs, and the solidarity of immigrant and native-born workers is the key to fight for a genuine social safety net in this country.
Neither native-born nor immigrant workers are guaranteed high-quality, free healthcare. Neither native-born nor immigrant workers are guaranteed reasonable rents and safe housing. Universal childcare, a livable minimum wage, paid time off.
Instead of spending trillions on war, we can fund Medicare for All. Instead of subsidizing corporate real estate developers, we can provide high-quality, permanently affordable housing.
All workers need to see the fight for immediate citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of the fight for a world where all our needs are met.