White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attempted to push back against accusations that the Biden administration is adopting a Trump-era asylum rule, during a news conference Thursday.
The Biden administration announced Tuesday a new immigration plan that would bar access to asylum for migrants who pass through safe countries on their journey without making an asylum claim there.
A former Trump administration official and some immigrant activists said it resembled the Trump administration’s safe third country agreements with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to expel many illegal immigrants claiming asylum in the U.S.
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“There is a huge difference here, which is what we are providing is expanded legal pathways. And that is important to make note is that that is something that the past administration didn’t do and that is something that we are doing here,” Jean-Pierre said.
“Look, on day one, the president put forward a comprehensive immigration reform proposal and that’s showing that the president was taking this very seriously. And the way that we see this is Congress needs to act and what was happening currently, right now is that congress is not acting,” she added.
The new rules coincide with a record surge in illegal immigration into the U.S. under Biden’s tenure. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022.
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The Biden administration introduced the rule before the anticipated end of Title 42, the Trump-era expulsion order used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, on May 11.
Title 42’s end is still being contested in court as a result of lawsuits led by Republican states.
President Joe Biden also created new legal paths in January for migrants to enter the country either using a phone app at ports of entry or to utilize a program for Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans to apply for humanitarian parole to fly into the U.S.
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