As U.S. midterm elections approach, immigration remains one of the country’s most contentious political issues, mostly concerning the number of people trying to enter the U.S. at the southwestern border.
While a record number of migrants are arriving at the U.S. Mexico border — for which Republicans blame President Joe Biden, a Democrat — data analyzed by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) show the Biden administration has been active on immigration, issuing 296 executive orders.
And the Biden administration has kept in place some Trump-era policies.
US-Mexico border and the asylum program
The Biden administration has continued Title 42, a policy implemented in March 2020 by order of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect public health during the pandemic. More than 1 million migrants seeking to apply for asylum in the United States were expelled to their home countries or Mexico in fiscal 2022. Implemented and enforced as a blanket policy by the Trump administration, Title 42 has been modified under Biden to allow unaccompanied minors and families with young children to enter the U.S.
U.S. law offers asylum to people facing persecution in their home countries on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group.
In May 2022, the Biden administration announced it would end Title 42. Republican-led states sued, and a court ruling has kept the policy in place without an expiration date.
The Biden administration was successful in ending another Trump-era policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which required asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for an immigration court to hear their case.
Because of a federal court order, migrants are no longer being enrolled in MPP. Those already enrolled in MPP and waiting in Mexico will be allowed to enter the U.S. for their next court date and not have to return to Mexico.
On May 31, 2022, the administration began implementing a change in how it handles some asylum claims. The new guidance is aimed at streamlining the asylum process and sending fewer cases to backlogged U.S. immigration courts. U.S. asylum officers would adjudicate the asylum claims of the migrants placed into expedited removal proceedings after May 31.