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Would President Biden’s asylum restrictions work? It’s a short-term fix, analysts say

Migrants and asylum seekers wait to be processed by the Border Patrol between the fence at the US-Mexico border seen from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on June 5, 2024, the day after President Joe Biden issued executive actions that restrict asylum for most migrants.
GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
Migrants and asylum seekers wait to be processed by the Border Patrol between the fence at the US-Mexico border seen from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on June 5, 2024, the day after President Joe Biden issued executive actions that restrict asylum for most migrants.

Immigration analysts cast doubt on the long-term effectiveness of President Biden’s executive actions restricting asylum claims for most migrants who try to enter the country through the U.S. Southern border illegally.

While Biden said Tuesday the intent is to “gain control of our border, [and] restore order to the process,” analysts see this proclamation as a short term solution, but hard to determine if these new measures would work.

If anything, the administration might be sending the message that it’s getting harder to get into the U.S., and migrants should apply for orderly entry by applying for asylum through the CBP One mobile app.

According to the president’s actions, when unauthorized crossings exceed an average of 2,500 migrants for seven consecutive days, that triggers the rule. People detained attempting to cross the border undocumented, won’t be allowed for an asylum claim and will be subject to expedited removal.

Exempted will be unaccompanied children and victims of severe forms of trafficking, among other cases.

Adam Issacson, an analyst with the Washington Office on Latin America, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., said what the administration is trying to do is disincentivize irregular migration.

“I’ve counted at least ten policies that have been put in place to try to push the numbers down, to try and deter people,” he said. “Every single one of those policies does push the numbers down for a few months, and then they start to recover and come right back.”

Biden’s executive actions came as the administration has been under heavy pressure to lower the number of migrants claiming asylum during his administration.

“They’re betting that they can bring those numbers down a little bit. It will dissuade people. And that’s certainly plausible,”, said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute.

The Biden administration in recent weeks has been piece-mealing restrictions to eligibility for asylum screenings. But Tuesday's proclamation is by far the most drastic measure so far, emulating somewhat the strategy that former President Trump implemented.

Maureen Meyer, director of the Washington office on Latin America said the effects of such measures heighten the risks for migrants who suffer human rights abuses during their journey. Many die trying to get to the U.S.

And many more are stuck on the Mexican side of the border, with no protection and in a legal limbo.

“People that want to cross the right way are being forced to wait in unsustainable conditions,” said Meyer. With the additional measures, “that wait will be longer and the real question is how many people will then out of desperation try to cross undetected using more remote routes, putting themselves in the hands of often ruthless smuggling organizations.

A key component in president Biden’s plan is the role Mexico plays to reduce the number of migrants arriving at the shared border between these countries.

During his remarks from the White House, president Biden said his administration will continue to work with Mexico to implement his plan.

“We’ve chosen to work together with Mexico as an equal partner, and the facts are clear,” he said. “Due to the arrangements that I’ve reached with President [Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador,] the number of migrants coming … to our shared border unlawfully in recent months has dropped dramatically.”

Copyright 2024 NPR

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.