HIAS: Biden Plan for Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan Asylum Seekers Outrageously Inequitable

SILVER SPRING, Md — HIAS today assailed President Biden’s deeply flawed and outrageously inequitable plan to expand Title 42 border expulsions of asylum seekers, while allowing up to 30,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua who have sponsors in the U.S. to enter the country temporarily as humanitarian parolees — but only if they fly to U.S. airports. The plan is similar to another flawed initiative the administration launched in October 2022 to admit up to 24,000 Venezuelans, while expelling a much larger number under Title 42, a World War II-era public health law that has led to more than two million expulsions under both the current and the previous administration since it was invoked in March of 2020.

Under the new program, asylum seekers from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua who cross the U.S. border between points of entry would be immediately expelled to Mexico, in coordination with Mexican authorities, who also agreed to accept Venezuelan asylum seekers expelled under the program launched in October. The Department of Homeland Security says people who cannot be expelled under Title 42 will be subject to expedited removal to their countries of origin and will face a five-year reentry ban. DHS officials say these new measures are part of the preparation for the end of Title 42, which currently remains in effect subject to a number of court orders.

“Today’s announcement is, sadly, yet another example of the kind of band-aid approach that favors select groups in an ad hoc manner, instead of the comprehensive effort we need to fix systemic problems at the border,” said HIAS Vice President of U.S. Policy and Advocacy Naomi Steinberg. “While we applaud the administration for making a commitment to welcome 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries through the U.S. refugee resettlement program during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024, we remain troubled that the administration will give preferential treatment to small numbers of Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans, while expanding Title 42 expulsions for a much larger number of others. This administration is increasingly offering temporary protection as a quid pro quo for denying it to thousands of others, which is unacceptable.”

Steinberg continued, “We are deeply unsettled by the introduction of a third country transit ban that will make asylum seekers ineligible for the new parole program if they enter the U.S., Mexico, or Panama without authorization. We also remain concerned about the continuing expansion of parole plans that make access to protection in the U.S. contingent upon outrageous requirements that asylum seekers must purchase expensive airline tickets and fly to U.S. airports in order to apply. These measures effectively shut out the most vulnerable asylum seekers who don’t have the means or connections to apply for the parole program.”

“Furthermore, the existing Uniting for Ukraine and Operation Allies Welcome programs have demonstrated problems with the administration’s reliance on humanitarian parole without long-term improvements to the backlogged asylum system,” Steinberg said. “Afghan evacuees are still in legal limbo after Congress failed to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to create pathways to permanent residence and citizenship, and now we’re expanding our use of parole for other populations as part of a political trade-off with objectionable measures aimed at bolstering border security. We need to see the administration’s long-term plan to ensure that all those admitted to the U.S. as parolees have meaningful opportunities for sustained protection and the ability to build new lives once they are here.”

HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield added, “While President Biden’s plan to deny asylum and expand the use of parole is unacceptable, HIAS fully embraces his repeated call to Congress for comprehensive immigration reform, as America’s broken immigration system requires a complete legislative overhaul, not band-aids applied by the White House. In the meantime, during this global refugee crisis, President Biden’s border plan to deny access to asylum to those who flee is particularly egregious. As the president himself said in his inaugural address, the United States must lead by the power of our example, not just by the example of our power. HIAS is particularly concerned that President Biden violates this pledge while invoking the memory of Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany. The international refugee protection regime arose from the ashes of the Holocaust to ensure that never again would people be trapped inside their country of persecution. President Biden’s plan rolls back that commitment.”



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