In an interview published in The Hill, Schmidt asserted that the Democratic president was able to set up an orderly process at the border and expand refugee programs in potential countries of origin, but he hasn’t.
Instead, he preferred to use modified versions of “proven deterrence programs,” he explained, implemented during the Donald Trump era (2017-2021) and by bureaucrats insensitive to the rights, needs, and multiple motives of asylum seekers.
The problems Schmidt describes are not limited to borders and the treatment of asylum seekers, but are reflected in other federal government immigration procedures.
Biden’s refugee program raised the immigrant admission limit for 2021 from 15,000 to 62,500, but only managed to accept 11,411 people at the end of the fiscal year, the lowest number in the country’s history.
One of the president’s campaign promises was to launch an executive order early in his term to suspend deportations for at least 100 days.
However, a federal judge blocked the stay’s decision, contending that the administration had not provided a concrete and reasonable justification for such a stay.
On the other hand, when Biden took office, immigration court delayed more than 1.29 million cases, but at the end of November 2021, that number had reached 1.56 million, and the average waiting for a hearing is 905 days.
According to official figures, more than 40 percent of asylum applications submitted since October 2000 are still pending.
Upon coming to power, the president rescinded a Trump-era policy known as Remain in Mexico, which forces immigrants to wait in the north of that neighboring country for a hearing to determine their immigration status.
But a federal court blocked the decision, calling it an illegal political move. Since then, Schmidt said, Biden has made changes to the program to make it safer and ensure the rights of the foreigners involved are protected, although efforts remain insufficient.
The current incumbent of the Oval Office also continues to implement the Trump policy known as Title 42, despite the opposition of many Democrats and immigrant rights advocates.
This program allows for the rapid expulsion of undocumented persons, citing the health crisis caused by Covid-19, and is responsible for 54 percent of those that occurred in the United States during 2021.
Immigrants expelled under this policy face no legal consequences, which encourages them to try to return to the United States from the southern border.
Schmidt explained that instead of taking immediate action to end this crisis, Biden intends to persuade Mexico and Central American countries to address the root causes that drive people to flee their homes, noting that such a situation will not bring change.
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