The Biden administration’s extension of its use of “expedited deportation” to include Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Venezuelans entering the United States illegally from Mexico has drawn widespread criticism from advocacy groups working specifically with LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers and migrants work.
The Department of Homeland Security will create a humanitarian parole program for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans that “combines safe, orderly, and legal routes into the United States, including work permits, with significant consequences for those who do not use those routes.”
Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans can “apply for pre-authorization to travel to the United States and be considered on a case-by-case basis for temporary probation for up to two years, inclusive of employment permits,” through a U.S. Customs and Border Protection app provided they: pass rigorous biometric, biographical, national security, and public safety screening; have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide financial and other assistance and to comply with immunization and other public health requirements.”
“Individuals do not have to be at the border to make an appointment; Expanded access to the app in central Mexico is intended to deter non-citizens from congregating near the border in unsafe conditions,” notes DHS. “First, this new scheduling capability will allow non-citizens to schedule a time and place to arrive at a port of entry to request a Title 42 public health regulation exemption on humanitarian grounds based on an individual vulnerability assessment. This will replace the current process for individuals requesting exemptions from Public Health Order Title 42, which requires non-citizens to submit requests through third-party organizations near the border.”
President Joe Biden said Thursday from the White House, with Vice President Kamala Harris standing beside him, that Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Venezuelans “are responsible for most of the people who travel to Mexico to start a new life by… get to the American border and try crossing.”
DHS said the U.S. Border Patrol “saw” a 90 percent drop in the number of Venezuelans “encountered at the border” after a similar humanitarian probation program began for them last October. Uniting for Ukraine, a humanitarian probation program for Ukrainians who fled after Russia launched its war against their country, started in April 2022.
Up to 30,000 “qualifying nationals” from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela may “reside legally in the United States for up to two years and be permitted to work here during that time.”
DHS notes that Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans “who do not take advantage of this process attempt to enter the United States without authorization and are unable to establish a legal basis for their stay, are deported, or returned to Mexico, that is accepting returns of 30,000 people per month who are not using these new avenues.”
“The expansion of the Venezuela process to include Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua is dependent on the Mexican government’s willingness to accept the return or deportation of nationals from those countries,” DHS said. “It is also responding to a request from the Mexican government to provide additional legal avenues for migrants, and it furthers the interests of both countries to address the impact of deteriorating conditions in those countries across the hemisphere.”
The government’s announcement also notes that “individuals entering the United States, Mexico or Panama without a permit after today’s announcement will generally not be eligible for these (humanitarian probation) procedures.”
“My message is this: if you’re trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti, you…or have agreed to travel to America, don’t do it – don’t just show up at the border. Stay where you are and apply legally from there,” Biden said. “As of today, if you do not apply through the trial process, you will not be eligible for this new parole program. Let me repeat: you need a legitimate sponsor in the United States of America, number one. And you have to pass a rigorous background check, number two. If your application is approved and you show up at a US airport or when and where instructed… you will have access, but if your application is denied or you attempt to enter the United States illegally, you will be denied entry. ”
Title 42 is “The Law Now”
The US Supreme Court ruled Dec. 27 that Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic, must remain in place.
The Biden administration has attempted to end Title 42, but Arizona and 18 other states, including Texas, have filed a lawsuit. The Supreme Court is expected to hold hearings in the case next month.
Biden is expected to travel to El Paso, Texas, which is across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Sunday before traveling to Mexico City to attend the Justin Trudeau summit of North American leaders.
“I don’t like Title 42 at all, but it’s law now,” said Biden, who predicted the pandemic-era politics will end this year. “I wanted to make sure there was a sensible way to start now.”
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba, told reporters Thursday that Title 42 is “increasing” the number of attempts to cross the border without legal permission. Like Biden, Mayorkas emphasized that the administration “is obligated to apply Title 42 given the differing court orders.”
“We will continue to exercise this power in accordance with court orders,” Mayorkas said.
Both Mayorkas and Biden said the US would expel foreigners entering the US without legal authorization under Title 8 once Title 42 ends. They also called on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“We are here because our immigration system is broken, outdated and in dire need of reform,” Mayorkas said. “The laws we enforce haven’t been updated in decades.”
“Many Republicans agree that we should do something, but it’s time to stop listening to their inflammatory talk and it’s time to look at their record,” Biden said. “I will sit down with anyone who, in good faith, wants to fix our broken immigration system. And it’s hard. It’s hard under the best of circumstances. But if the most extreme Republicans continue to deny demagogues and solutions to this issue, I have only one choice: to act on my own, to do as much as I can myself to try to change the atmosphere. Immigration reform used to be a bipartisan issue. We can do it like this again. That is not only correct, but also makes economic sense.”
President Joe Biden will visit El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on July 15, 2019. President Joe Biden will visit El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on July 15. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Layla Razavi, interim executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, said in a statement her organization is “deeply disappointed by Biden’s shameful extension of Trump’s Title 42 policy, which further cements his predecessor’s anti-immigrant legacy.”
“The Biden administration should work to restore and strengthen our asylum system, not undermine what has been a vital lifeline for so many in our communities,” Razavi said. “True to Title 42’s original motives, this policy will continue to disproportionately harm Black and Brown migrants seeking asylum.”
Organization of Refuge, Asylum and Migration works with LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers from Ukraine and other countries around the world. Steve Roth, the group’s executive director, joined five members of Congress last May who visited two shelters for LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.
Roth described the government’s announcement in a text message to the Blade as “sad and frustrating”.
“It is unlawful and will limit access to the asylum system for the vast majority of asylum seekers at the border, including LGBTIQ people,” he said.
Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director for Immigration Equality, said in a press release, “Every LGBTQ and HIV-positive refugee has the right to seek asylum in the United States.”
“Our community’s obligation to seek asylum in unsafe third countries will have deadly consequences for many of us,” he said. “Immigration Equality strongly condemns any proposal by the Biden administration to restrict asylum to LGBTQ and HIV-positive refugees. The United States has a great capacity to protect and assist asylum seekers and refugees, perhaps more so than any other nation. President Biden must stop putting up protective barriers and instead do everything in his power to facilitate the safe relocation of all LGBTQ and HIV-positive people fleeing persecution.”
San Diego Pride executive director Fernando Z. López agreed with Morris, “Asylum is a human right and an LGBTQ issue,” noting that consensual same-sex sexual relations continue to be criminalized in 68 countries and “people can be killed just because they are themselves” in 10 of them.
Harris is among US officials who have publicly acknowledged that violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity is one of the “root causes” of migration from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
“The United States, California and San Diego are recognized as international havens for LGBTQ immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and their families seeking refuge from war, political violence, climate catastrophe and anti-LGBTQ targeting,” López told Blade. “The longer a government prevents those seeking refuge from living safely and freely in this country, as is their internationally recognized right, our LGBTQ community will need to continue to devote time and resources to assessing the crisis at our border.”
“San Diego Pride, as an organization supporting the LGBTQ community on the US-Mexico border, understands the needs of our LGBTQ community and deserves true immigration and asylum reform so that we can fully embrace the binational and international community work to build capacity that we really need will thrive,” López added. “Today’s announcement only delays this life-saving, movement-building work even further.”
Story courtesy of Washington Blade via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a combined readership of more than 400,000 in print and more than 1 million+ online. Learn more here: https://nationallgbtmediaassociation.com/