The Biden Administration is likely to end asylum restrictions introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at the US border on May 23, according to the Associated Press.
The restrictions were introduced under a public health law called Title 42, which has enabled US border officials to turn away migrants seeking asylum due to the ongoing pandemic. The program was introduced in March 2020 under the Trump administration and has been continued by the Biden administration.
According to the AP, the decision is not yet final but the date was outlined to give border officials advance time. The Biden administration has faced pressure from immigration advocates and top Democrats to recind the policy.
On Wednesday, when asked about his administration’s plan for Title 42, President Joe Biden told reporters, “We’ll have a decision on that soon.”
The law has been administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has been renewed several times during the course of Biden’s time in office. Under US law, migrants have the right to claim asylum, and the measure has been challenged in court numerous times.
After another renewal in January which extends to late March, the AP reported that as soon as Friday, the administration could announce that it will not renew the policy, giving border officials until May 23 to start processing migrants’ claims to asylum.
The White House and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return Insider’s requests for comment.
Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America’s Global Policy Lead, said that “experience has unfortunately shown that we cannot take announcements about this administration’s immigration policies at face value.”
“The fact is that after more than a year in office, this administration’s COVID policies remain hypocritical: falsely deeply scapegoating asylum seekers at the border for the spread of the pandemic while simultaneously removing COVID restrictions across the country,” Gottschalk said. “Every day that this policy remains in place is a day that people fleeing persecution are subjected to assault, violence, and death, simply for seeking their legal right to protection. Title 42 must end immediately.”
The policy, initially pushed by Trump immigration advisor Stephen Miller, was one of the previous administration’s signature restrictive immigration policies, effectively gutting the asylum process at the US border and leaving millions in limbo.
to the AP, the order has enabled more than 1.7 million migrant expulsions since March 2020 without opportunities to claim asylum, and on Tuesday, US border officials said that 7,100 migrants are being stopped at the border daily.
The administration is said to be bracing for an increase when the border restriction ends, with more Cuban, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Colombia arriving at the US border in the last month.
Russian and Ukrainian migrants have also attempted to claim asylum as the war in Ukraine has raged on.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.