Comparing Biden's Border Policy Shifts to Trump's 'Muslim Ban'

The new measures deny the right to seek asylum to those who cross the US southern border without authorization

by Sededin Dedovic
Comparing Biden's Border Policy Shifts to Trump's 'Muslim Ban'
© Kevin Dietsch / Getty images

American President Joe Biden has introduced new restrictions that would prohibit most migrants who illegally cross the southern border of the United States from seeking asylum in the country, reports Al Jazeera. The White House announced new measures, stating that the U.S.

"must secure" its borders. "These actions will be in effect when a high level of (illegal crossings) at the southern border exceeds our ability to respond to the consequences in a timely manner, as is the case today," the White House said.

"They will make it easier for immigration officials to remove those who do not have a legal basis to stay and reduce the burden on our border patrol agents." If the average number of illegal daily crossings exceeds 2,500, under the new measure, every migrant who unlawfully crosses the southern border will be prevented from applying for asylum.

CBS News reported last month that the average number of illegal daily crossings reported by the U.S. Border Patrol was 3,700.

Biden's Strictest Measures

The new regulations take effect early Wednesday and will remain in place until the number of illegal crossings falls below a daily average of 1,500 in one week.

Restrictions would be reintroduced if the numbers increase again. Exceptions to the order include unaccompanied minors and individuals determined to be victims of human trafficking. While Biden had previously imposed restrictions on asylum-seeking, the measures from Tuesday are the strictest he has set for migration at the southern border.

This announcement comes amid Biden's campaign for the November presidential elections, where he will face his predecessor and Republican rival Donald Trump. Hannah Flamm, a policy advisor at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), said the decree would "effectively close" the border to asylum seekers.

"Even before this rule, there were countless barriers to seeking asylum that the Biden administration has exacerbated and intensified in recent weeks and months," Flamm told Al Jazeera. "With the new rule, once the average limit of 2,500 people per day is reached, you don't have the opportunity to seek asylum." Immigration and civil rights groups quickly condemned the restrictions, calling them an "asylum ban" similar to Trump's policy while in office.

: Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX) joins fellow Democratic members of the House of Representatives to voice their opposition to President © Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

"The Biden administration just announced an executive order that will severely restrict people's legal right to seek asylum, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted on social media Tuesday.

"This action mirrors the same approach as the asylum ban imposed by the Trump administration. We will challenge this order in court."

Like Trump's 'Muslim Ban'

U.S. law allows anyone on U.S. soil to apply for asylum. Federal officials and immigration courts would then have to assess the request, which is a lengthy process that can take years to resolve.

However, the White House cited portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which grant the president authority over regulating migration, as the legal basis for the new restrictions. Trump used the same law to impose the so-called "Muslim Ban" in 2017, barring citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

However, Biden attempted to draw a distinction between himself and Trump when he announced the executive order on Wednesday. "I will never demonize immigrants," Biden told reporters. "I will never separate children from their families at the border.

I will not ban people from entering this country because of their religious beliefs." He also criticized Republicans for not cooperating with the White House on addressing immigration issues and increasing resources for border security.

Still, many lawmakers from Biden's own Democratic Party criticized the measure.

'Coercion, Punishment, and False Narrative'

"This attempt to close the border to asylum seekers uses the same section of U.S. immigration law that convicted criminal Donald Trump used to implement the Muslim ban and attempt to block any access to asylum," said Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal.

"While there are some differences from Trump's actions, the reality is that the same failed approach is being used, based solely on coercion, punishing asylum seekers, and the false narrative that these decisions will 'fix' the border." Flamm says the narrative that Biden is pushing for open border policies is unfounded.

"Biden is incredibly tough on border issues," she said. "And I think the moral and political failure of this administration is not taking a stance that protects the rights of immigrants and people seeking safety in the U.S." White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said Biden took executive actions in the absence of legislation to try to "alleviate" pressure on the border.

"We're working very hard with our partners in the region, including primarily Mexico, to do everything we can to stop the reasons for migration, to try to get at the root causes of it," Kirby told Al Jazeera in a television interview.