SAN ANTONIO — The White House’s announcement on updated border enforcement measures and expansion of legal pathways for migrants has sparked conflicting reactions from groups that advocate on behalf of asylum seekers.
President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans to allow 30,000 migrants monthly from Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti to enter the country legally through a program requiring a U.S.-based sponsor. It’s similar to the humanitarian parole program afforded to displaced Ukrainians and Venezuelans. Eligible migrants who are approved can live and work in the U.S. legally for two years.
The Biden administration also said there will be harsher penalties for migrants who cross the southern border without proper authorization, which involves immediate deportation under Title 42 and a five-year ban from re-entering the U.S.
“We’re going to be in a wait and see posture to see how this all plays out,” said Rudy Rosales Jr., Texas state director of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “I was asked earlier that it’s been two years and that the president had not been to the border. I say better late than never. I’m glad he’s there now.”
LULAC’s cautious support of the Biden administration comes just days before his planned visit to El Paso, where the president will assess border enforcement operations and meet with community leaders. Rosales stressed LULAC does not stand for open borders and hopes the president and Americans in general can feel compassion for the families escaping turmoil with hopes of a better life.
“I hope they take away with them that these are human beings for crying out loud. I urge every American if they can, if they have the opportunity to go to the border and see these little children with their mothers and their fathers and to see the humanitarian crisis that is at our southern border,” Rosales said.
Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) provides pro-bono legal services for thousands of clients a year in addition to holistic social services upon entry into the U.S.
RAICES provided an emailed statement opposing the White House’s announcement on border enforcement actions:
“In practice, the Biden-Harris Administration’s proposed measures resurrect the worst of the previous administration’s immigration policies and eviscerate the established process and practice of seeking asylum. The new measures provide a false promise of access to humanitarian relief and are tone deaf to the realities experienced by immigrants in urgent need of refuge.
"Under the myriad life or death circumstances that drive individuals and families to request asylum, it is preposterous to expect that they can book a flight and download a mobile app to make an advanced reservation for protection. The reality is that these measures perpetuate and expand the punitive approach to immigration enforcement that elected officials have increasingly relied upon in recent years to destroy the legal and human right to asylum.”
Since Title 42 became law in 2020, more than 2 million migrants have been deported.
>MORE BORDER COVERAGE: