Opinion: Biden must do more for asylum-seekers. The Trump-era 'Remain in Mexico' program must end.
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The Biden administration’s announcement Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with Mexico — on a resumption of the Trump administration’s policy of requiring migrants looking to enter the United States to stay in Mexico while they wait for immigration hearings — was not a decision it wanted. President Joe Biden has called the policy cruel and inhumane. But a federal judge in Texas, acting at the behest of Texas and Missouri, held that the “Remain in Mexico” policy was canceled in a capricious fashion on Biden’s first day in office, and the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.
The president should take the formal steps needed to cancel the policy in a way that courts accept. But in the meantime, Biden must follow through on pledges made to Mexico to improve the safety of asylum-seekers waiting near the border for their hearings, to ensure their access to attorneys and to protect them from COVID-19 by administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In the longer term, the president and Congress need to allocate significantly more resources to the asylum process and fully reverse course from the callous policies of Donald Trump, who opposed the entry of any asylum-seeker, including those with legitimate fears for their safety if returned to their home countries. He ignored the clear intent of the Refugee Act of 1980 . Biden, thankfully, will not.
This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune .