The Biden administration has been widely criticized for the so-called “surge” of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data show that the recent increase is consistent with predictable patterns of undocumented migration. More importantly, the criticism ignores the reality that asylum seekers have fled unspeakable danger in their home countries and disregards the U.S. government’s obligation – under both domestic and international law – to allow them to seek protection.
The criticism also overlooks the fact that the Trump administration’s draconian policies have prevented asylum seekers from entering the U.S. over the past four years. To unwind these unlawful policies, the Biden administration must restore the opportunity to seek asylum at the southern border and overhaul the U.S. asylum system to provide meaningful access to protection.
The number of migrants permitted to enter the U.S. in recent weeks pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of people stranded on the Mexican side of the border over the past four years as a direct result of Trump administration policies. The most firmly entrenched of these policies is metering. Under this policy, CBP artificially restricts asylum seekers’ access to ports of entry along the southern border, stating falsely that they lack “capacity” to process them. As a result, many migrants–often entire families–were rejected at ports of entry, and were sent to Mexico to put their names on waiting lists and live indefinitely in makeshift, often dangerous arrangements in the hope of seeking asylum in the U.S.
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