“Promise broken,” Julián Castro, a veteran of the Barack Obama administration, tweeted this week, blasting Joe Biden’s latest move on immigration. On Thursday the policy widely known as Title 42, which allowed American officials to keep out asylum-seekers for public health reasons, will expire. In its place, the Biden administration has announced a new set of sweeping immigration constraints in the hopes of curbing an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border. Going forward, all migrants will be denied entry into the US unless they have sought asylum in a transit country or submitted an online application for protection in the US before arriving at the border. Anyone who doesn’t meet those qualifications but cross anyway will be barred from reentry for at least five years. If the policy—Title 8—sounds familiar, that’s because it’s not new: Trump implemented a very similar rule when he was president, and immigration advocates are furious.

Castro was quick to point out the hypocrisy: During his 2020 presidential campaign Biden accused Trump of becoming “the first president…[to say that] anybody seeking asylum has to do it in another country.”

“With his new asylum rule, Biden became the second president,” Castro wrote. Immigration rights groups have attacked this proposal from the beginning, saying the administration is following in the footsteps of Trump’s notorious anti-immigration adviser Stephen Miller. Advocates are also expected to challenge the latest policy in court, per The New York Times. Biden’s administration pushed back on the Trump comparisons earlier this year. “This is not a Trump-era policy,” Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on MSNBC in late January. “This is not a transit ban. We have provided a lawful path for individuals to try and seek entry.” But it didn’t help that conservative lawmaker Jim Jordan, who has long staked out an anti-immigration agenda, told NBC News the Title 8 policy was “good” back in February (details of the policy were first proposed in January).

But it appears the administration is now fighting against a different narrative—one Republicans like Jordan are pushing—that the end of Title 42 will amount to open borders. “Let me be clear, the lifting of the Title 42 public health order does not mean our border is open. In fact, it is the contrary,” Mayorkas said on Wednesday, before noting the five-year reentry ban. “[Title 8] means tougher consequences for people who cross the border illegally.”

Unlike the quick summary expulsions leveled under Title 42, detailed records will now be kept on those who are caught crossing the border and those being screened for asylum claims. To manage this changeover, Biden has dispatched about 550 active-duty troops so far to the border for a 90-day deployment that will involve “ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support,” according to an official who spoke to CNN. An additional 1,400-plus DHS employees, roughly 1,000 asylum officers, and 1,500 Department of Defense personnel have also been sent to the border. Moreover, the administration is working to set up scores of new processing centers in Latin America to manage the president’s goal of accepting up to 30,000 qualified asylum-seekers every month. (Since Title 42’s activation in March 2020, migrants have been denied a chance to seek asylum nearly 3 million times.)

The administration’s post–Title 42 plans have faced a barrage of questions from Democrats of various stripes—some who feel the president is adopting Trump’s harsh approach to immigration and others who claim the administration is not doing enough to support border states.

Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, has warned the administration that border communities in his state “are simply unequipped” to handle a migrant influx. “It is imperative the Biden administration work directly, in real-time, with these communities to support them in every way they need,” Gallego said last week. “We need the Biden administration to act, and to act fast.” A similar message was shared by Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic governor. “We have not received an adequate response [from the Biden administration],” Hobbs said on Monday. “We will continue to relentlessly pressure the federal government until we truly get the resources we need to manage the expected influx.”


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