New York Correspondent
A little less than a year ago, when Joe Biden was just the favorite Democratic candidate to win the primaries, he promised he would upend the immigration policy of Donald Trump as soon as he arrived at the White House: “On the first day, I will eliminate President Trump’s decision to limit asylum and end the MPP program,” he said about the government’s impediments to requesting asylum in the US at the border south and about the program that allows the country to return applicants to the other side of the border, while they wait for their asylum claim to be processed.
With just under a month to go until Biden is sworn in as US president, he is beginning to backtrack on those promises, which could cause a “pull effect” in Mexico and Central America after years of immigration restraints by part of the Trump Administration. This has been confirmed in an interview with Efe by Biden’s main advisers on domestic policy and national security, Susan Rice and Jake Sullivan, both veterans of the Obama Administration.
“The processing capacity at the border is not like a light that can be turned on and off,” Rice said about the dismantling of the limitations imposed by the Trump Administration to review asylum applications. “Migrants and asylum seekers should not at all believe the people in the region who are selling the idea that the border will suddenly be wide open to process everyone on the first day. It will not be like that, “Rice warned about the possibility that the border between the US and Mexico collapses immediately after Biden is inaugurated as president on January 20.
Rice and Sullivan justified the probable delays in fulfilling the promise due to the situation created by Covid-19, precisely one of the reasons used by Trump to accelerate the expulsion of asylum seekers. “It will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to fully reopen,” Rice said.
The desire to emigrate north from Central American countries could also be driven by the destruction left this year by the hurricanes Eta e Iota. “Aid will come to the region, and soon,” Sullivan promised, without giving details, adding that the Biden Administration “will establish new programs in the region so that desperate people can find safety and seek protection closer to home. and without having to put their lives in the hands of traffickers and smugglers.
Despite this extreme situation, Sullivan insisted that they should not try to enter the country of the “Stars and Stripes.” “Given the pandemic and the large number of migrants already waiting in Northern Mexico, now is not the time to undertake the dangerous journey to the US It will take months until we can fully implement our plans,” he said in full contradiction with the promises of “day one.”
Safe third country
Biden’s advisers also did not make it clear when and under what conditions the $ 4 billion aid for four years to support the conditions of the Central American countries. “This work will begin immediately,” Sullivan said, but added that it will be conditional on “the countries of the region mobilizing their own resources and carrying out critical reforms to build sustainable societies, among other factors.”
Where it does seem that Biden will act more quickly is the elimination of the “safe third country” agreements, which Trump signed with the Governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, so that the first could welcome asylum seekers. “They deny the right to seek asylum in the US to those who are desperate, instead of creating alternative routes of protection. That is not who we are as a country, “criticized Sullivan, who said that Biden” will work to quickly annul these agreements. “
Also prioritized will be the promise of providing a path to citizenship for “dreamers,” the millions of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, and for whom. Obama regularized with DACA, which Trump has fought, unsuccessfully, in court. “The president-elect will fulfill his commitment to send a bill to Congress immediately after taking office,” said Sullivan, although he warned that he will need the collaboration of the Lower House for the reform of the immigration system. “The Biden Administration will not be able to fix everything on our own, we will need legislative changes,” he warned, knowing that they will face the Republicans in Parliament.
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