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Biden's immigration policies fail families, weaken national security

USA TODAY
USA TODAY
 2021-11-29

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It was Election Day 2020, and Adriana and I were ecstatic. We were at a migrant shelter by the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, having a pizza party as returns came in showing President Donald Trump heading to a loss against Joe Biden.

Adriana fled Guatemala in hopes of gaining asylum in America, only to be dumped back over the border under the inhumane Trump administration's " Remain in Mexico ” (MPP) program. Adriana fell in love with another asylum-seeker fleeing political violence in Nicaragua and forced to wait in Mexico.

For over two years, we have tried to get this family into the United States, including during Adriana’s high-risk pregnancy when she struggled to secure access to prenatal care. Yet despite all of their suffering, Adriana and her family have kept their faith in the official asylum system.

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With Biden’s election, it seemed Adriana’s patience would finally be vindicated. Biden promised to right the wrongs of the Trump administration and ensure that asylum-seekers would be treated with the care and dignity they deserve . But over the first year of his presidency, he has done anything but.

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President Joe Biden on March 24, 2021. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Contrary to his promises, Biden has kept one of the Trump administration’s worst policies on the books: Title 42, which, against the advice of medical experts , uses the pandemic as an excuse to violate human rights law and expel asylum-seekers to Mexico and their home countries, including thousands of Haitians.

He is also planning to restart the “Remain in Mexico” program , which forces migrants to stay in Mexico while their asylum cases are pending.

These are no longer Trump policies. This is Biden’s immigration legacy, too.

The result has been a human rights catastrophe for asylum-seekers, whose physical safety and very lives are in jeopardy because Biden clings to Trump’s asylum policy at our border. In the 10 months since Biden took office, there have been more than 7,647 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other violent assaults against asylum-seekers forced to remain or return to Mexico.

I have seen with my own eyes a family kidnapped in front of me – a mother, a father, and a toddler in their arms, sobbing and begging for help – as I was told to step aside or else.

Far from promoting public safety, Biden’s utterly evil asylum policies have been a stimulus plan for Mexican cartels. Facing daily threats, many asylum-seekers have no choice but to abandon a U.S. immigration policy that has abandoned them, and put their lives in the hands of smugglers, whose rates have skyrocketed to as high as $15,000 to take a family across the border.

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And while Biden has officially ended Trump’s policy of " family separation ," his use of Title 42 has created family separation 2.0: Many parents blocked from seeking asylum under Title 42 must make the heartbreaking choice to send their children alone , because it’s the only way they can keep them alive.

Mexican and Haitian families at the border are in danger, and they are angry. They have been betrayed by Biden’s broken promises and broken immigration system. They are turning to organized crime instead. Title 42 and MPP are weakening security on the border, and our national security as a whole.

What we need to do now is right an asylum system that is not only inhumane and immoral, but also ineffective, inconsistent and convoluted. We need to show asylum-seekers that there is a path for them within the law, that they will be kept safe and that their patience will be rewarded. To do that, the Biden administration needs to immediately end Title 42. It is absurd and repugnant that while vaccinated tourists are now allowed to fly into American airports, vaccinated asylum-seekers crossing the Mexican border are still turned away.

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The Biden administration has taken some steps in the right direction with the MPP wind-down and termination memo, but their apparent desire to relaunch a gentler, kinder MPP 2.0 has been shocking, resulting in myself and my colleagues walking out of a meeting with the White House. There is absolutely no way to restart “Remain in Mexico” in a way that is just or humane.

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Immigration activists rally near the White House on Oct. 7, 2021. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Finally, it is long past time for the administration to actually engage with immigration experts on the ground at the border. Instead of ignoring us and issuing dictates from Washington that make no sense in reality, policymakers need to work with us to rebuild an asylum system that works, keeps asylum-seekers and the border safe, and is trusted by those arriving at the border to seek protection.

Adriana is still trapped in Mexico with her partner and baby, waiting for their asylum applications to be reviewed. Even after everything our country has put her through, Adriana still believes America could be her family’s salvation. It’s not too late to right the wrongs of the past years. We owe it to her, and thousands of migrants at America's borders, to create immigration policies that are fundamentally humane.

Taylor Levy is an immigration attorney and policy consultant dedicated to protecting the rights of asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page , on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter . To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden's immigration policies fail families, weaken national security

Comments / 72

Kim Brailey
11-30

It's time to do something about our borders. What's coming across is not what our police can handle. 144 caught over the weekend, 120 were habitual criminals.

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Oliver73
11-30

The dunce in the White House Bidunce needs to put military on the border with orders to shoot every ILLEGAL invading this country..we are being invaded by foreign countries..bullets are cheaper than WELFARE..

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Maureen Curtin
11-30

because of the new covet variant Joe Biden blocked people from certain African countries I'm coming to the US through the legal method that anyone can help illegally through the southern border not be tested for covid or any disease not before to take a vaccine and just be released into our country this is insanity no reason or logic can explain it. Joe Biden needs to be impeached for not living up to his oath of office and doing his duty and enforcing the laws of this country. and I am not a person who calls for impeachment I feel it is a last-ditch resort but this man is a threat to this country not only is this open border policy a security threat but his lack of cognitive ability it's a huge security threat he can't even remember China's not our friend

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