The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that all immigrants who were deported under former president Donald Trump’s “Return to Mexico” policy can now apply to be processed for asylum.
This policy change could affect as many as 34,000 migrants.
The agency claimed in a statement that this reversal is part of the Biden administration’s “continued effort to restore safe, orderly, and humane processing at the southwest border.”
However, border facilities are already overwhelmed by immigrants seeking access to the U.S.
Inviting tens of thousands of more migrants to try their shot at the border could make the already dire immigration crisis even worse, Republicans said.
Biden repealed Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy during his first few weeks in office.
Immigration experts have argued this reversal helped trigger the ongoing border crisis.
Administration officials have denied that the policy reversal made things worse, arguing the rule “led to dangerous and inhumane conditions along Mexico’s northern border.”
Biden also recently lifted the cap on asylum claims that had been imposed by Trump.
Specifically, the Justice Department overturned two key policies: Matter of A-B, which mandated that migrants fleeing to the U.S. due to domestic abuse or economic uncertainty must display proof that their home country left them with “complete helplessness.”
And Matter of L-E-A, which limited the circumstances in which asylum-seekers could claim they faced persecution based on their family association.
“These decisions involve important questions about the meaning of our Nation’s asylum laws, which reflect America’s commitment to providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote in a memo announcing the policy changes to immigration judges.