Courtesy of The New York Times, we learned that President Joe Biden’s administration is considering reviving one of the most controversial practices of the Trump era: the detention of migrant families at the border.
Although no final action has been taken, the leak to one of the most influential newspapers in the United States suggests that this is a possibility seriously considered by the White House and that it is gauging the reaction of public opinion.
I fully agree with the interpretation of the newspaper in the sense that it is a regression of President Biden, who as a presidential candidate promised to carry out a more dignified and humanitarian approach towards migrants and asylum seekers.
Recently, the Biden administration announced a no less controversial proposed rule under which all asylum seekers who arrive at the border will automatically be deemed ineligible if they do not prove that they have applied for refuge in transit countries.
Under the plan under consideration, migrant families would only be held for the 20-day period allowed by law, and not indefinitely as was the case during the Trump era until that inhumane policy was found illegal by US courts.
But it is obvious that a policy of this type can have an undesired effect: that potential migrants send their unaccompanied children to the border, to avoid the application of that policy. In other words, de facto, it would be a version similar to the draconian policy of separating parents and children.
It is understandable that there is a level of despair on the part of the Biden administration on the immigration issue, especially given the imminent end of Title 42 on May 11 and the possibility of an uncontrollable exodus of migrants, especially from Latin America.
But the expectation of those who voted for President Biden based on immigration policy was not a repetition of the Trump era, but a push for comprehensive immigration reform and a total restructuring of the asylum system, to fully comply with what is dictated by US law.
Instead, we are reaching the middle of his term, and what we have are public policy patches that have little to do with his original promise and that have prompted many to be disappointed if not betrayed by those policies.
If the New York Times leak was a test balloon to press public opinion, the reaction should be a resounding rejection, and a demand that the White House, given the difficulty of achieving a comprehensive immigration reform, put the Republicans in the lower house, to implement what was promised: fair, dignified and humanitarian immigration policies.