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US lifts Covid-era asylum curbs on border

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CIUDAD JUAREZ (Mexico): The United States on Friday ended a Covid-19 border restriction that had blocked many migrants at the border with Mexico, immediately replacing the order known as Title 42 with a sweeping new asylum regulation meant to deter illegal crossings.

Several last-minute court actions added confusion to how President Joe Biden’s reworked border policies will play out, with advocates filing a legal challenge to the new asylum restrictions as they took effect.

In El Paso, Texas, hundreds of migrants slept outside on American soil in front of the border fence as the sun rose on Friday morning. Texas National Guard, state troopers and border agents patrolled the surrounding area where migrants have waited after surrendering to US border authorities.

Across the border in Ciudad Juarez a day earlier, migrant shelters were half full, holding about 1,600 people. Two shelter directors said many of the migrants were planning to apply for legal US entry via an app called CBP One.

Just before Title 42 was set to expire at midnight on Thursday, immigration advocates represented by the American Civil Liberties Union sued over the new asylum bars, claiming they violate US laws and international agreements.

Advocates argue the new regulation, put in place by Biden’s Democratic administration to curb illegal crossings, resembles restrictions imposed by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

The rights groups successfully blocked the Trump rules in court and asked the same California-based federal judge to block these as well.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the Biden regulation in a series of television interviews on Friday morning, saying it aims to encourage migrants to enter using legal pathways rather than crossing illegally “It’s going to be a tough transition,” he told MSNBC.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2023


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