In statements this week, Biden and his advisers said they plan on taking down Trump’s legal wall that includes the Remain in Mexico policy, as well as cooperative asylum agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The agreements have allowed federal immigration officials to swiftly return border crossers to their native countries after failing to meet asylum thresholds.
“The timeline is to do it in fact to make it better not worse,” Biden said at a news conference on Tuesday. “The last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately the access to asylum the way it’s being run now and end up with 2 million people on our border. It’s a matter of setting up the guardrails.”
Biden’s incoming domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan, in an interview with a Spanish language media outlet, said Biden would be ending Trump’s Central American agreements that have streamlined the asylum process and helped keep illegal immigration down.
Though not immediately ending Remain in Mexico, Rice and Sullivan suggested Biden would end the program at some point in the future, according to a story reporting in the Washington Post:
Rice and Sullivan told EFE the Biden administration would redouble efforts to stem emigration from Central America by creating jobs, battling corruption and improving security. Biden “will work to promptly undo” Trump’s deals with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador allowing the U.S. authorities to transfer asylum seekers to those countries, Sullivan also said. [Emphasis added]
“As currently written, the outgoing administration’s so-called ‘asylum cooperative agreements’ deny the right to apply for asylum in the United States to desperate asylum seekers rather than helping create alternative pathways to protection,” he said. [Emphasis added]
Biden’s seeking to end the U.S. agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is likely to invite a wave of migration through Mexico and to the southern border as border crossers could be released into the interior of the country while awaiting their asylum cases.
Also in the interview, Rice and Sullivan urged future border crossers in Mexico and Central America to remain patient while they “increase processing capacity.”
“Migrants and asylum seekers absolutely should not believe those in the region peddling the idea that the border will suddenly be fully open to process everyone on Day 1,” Rice said. “It will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to reopen fully.”
Last week, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Chief Mark Morgan said Biden is sending a message to the world’s migrants that “we have open borders.”
More than 67,000 border crossers were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in November — more than double the roughly 33,500 who were apprehended in November 2019. About 58,500 of those arrested last month were single adults, while nearly 4,500 were Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs).
In the first two months of Fiscal Year 2020, for instance, close to 135,000 border crossers were apprehended by Border Patrol. This accounts for a seven-year apprehension high during these months. ✪