Joe Biden’s immigration plan – breaks down what it does and doesn’t cover

The breakdown of Biden’s border crackdown: President’s ambitious plan to bring down migration from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua by 90% that includes ‘rapid’ expulsion to Mexico – but doesn’t stop those flooding through gaps in the wall

  • President Biden on Thursday announced crackdown on illegal border crossings
  • It extends restrictions on claiming asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Instead people from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti must now apply for travel permit
  • But critics said it would do nothing to secure the border itself 
  • And human rights groups blasted Biden for aping Republican policies 

The Biden administration announced Thursday it was expanding Trump-era restrictions to rapidly expel Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan migrants caught illegally crossing the southern border.

Instead, it will accept 30,000 people per month from those three countries, as well as Venezuela, so long as they arrive legally.

It represents an attempt both to head off Republican criticism that it has allowed record numbers to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and to address concerns from within the Democratic Party that President Joe Biden has been too slow to shake off Trump-era restrictions that prevent those in need from seeking asylum.

The administration is preparing for the end of Title 42, a public health regulation that allows the expulsion of migrants before they can claim asylum in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans for dealing with migrants arriving at the border with Mexico, as the administration prepares for the end of Title 42

President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans for dealing with migrants arriving at the border with Mexico, as the administration prepares for the end of Title 42

With the pandemic over, there is little legal justification in keeping it in place although the Supreme Court has ruled it must stay while it hears an appeal. 

Even in announcing the plan, Biden acknowledged that it was far from perfect.

‘The actions we’re announcing today will make things better … will make things better but will not fix the border problem completely,’ he said.

And both left and right were quick to reup their longstanding complaints about the administration’s immigration policies.

Here’s what the Biden plan does and doesn’t do:     

Expand legal pathways for ‘safe, orderly, and humane migration’

No-one should have to put their lives in the hands of ‘coyotes’ or people smugglers to get to safety, runs the argument.

And so the administration is extending what it said was a successful scheme for Venezuelans to people from Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba.

It means that up to 30,000 people, who have a sponsor and can pass background checks, can come to the U.S. to work for two years, under a process known as ‘parole.’

It involves a fully online process to give people advance approval to travel to the U.S.

Migrants from Nicaragua and Ecuador wait at a door on the border wall waiting to be picked up by United States Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, U.S., January 4, 2023

Migrants from Nicaragua and Ecuador wait at a door on the border wall waiting to be picked up by United States Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, U.S., January 4, 2023

‘Do not just show up at the border,’ said Biden. ‘Stay where you are and apply legally from there.’

If approved, they can even use an app to schedule an appointment at a port of entry. 

Officials say when this was introduced for people fleeing unrest in Venezuela it reduced the number of attempted legal crossings by Venezuelans by 90 percent. 

A similar program is in place for people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Mexico will take 30,000 illegal arrivals from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba

The flip side of that is that anyone from those four countries who ‘irregularly’ crosses the Panama, Mexico or U.S. border will not be eligible for the new pathway, and will be subject to expulsion to Mexico, which will accept returns of up to 30,000 migrants from those four countries.

‘This is important: If individuals from these counties attempt to cross the U.S. border without authorization, or the Mexico or Panama borders, after today they will not be eligible for this new legal pathway,’ said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a press conference. 

‘So, the message is clear: Individuals should stay where they are and apply for these processes from there.’

Enhanced use of ‘expedited removal’

Other aspects include preparations for what happens after Title 42 is lifted, and for those who are currently not covered by its provisions, such as unaccompanied children.

They are processed under different provisions, known as Title 8. 

‘For those processed under Title 8, we are increasing and enhancing our use of expedited removal, which allows for the prompt removal of those who do not claim a fear of persecution or torture or are determined not to have a credible fear after an interview with an asylum officer, in accordance with established procedures,’ said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday in a fact sheet on the new policy. 

‘This enhanced expedited removal process will include: dedicating additional resources including personnel, transportation, and facilities; optimizing processes across DHS and [the Department of Justice]; and working with the State Department and countries in the region to increase repatriations.’

Migrants from Venezuela are in line to be processed at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday. Biden will travel to El Paso Sunday ahead of the 'three amigos' summit in Mexico Monday and Tuesday

Migrants from Venezuela are in line to be processed at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday. Biden will travel to El Paso Sunday ahead of the ‘three amigos’ summit in Mexico Monday and Tuesday

No money for the border wall 

Conservatives, who want more focus on securing the border, said Biden’s proposals simply offered an additional amnesty rather setting out how it would stop people slipping across the border. 

They pointed out that there were no details on funding for the get-tough aspects of the proposals, and that it would do nothing about people who evade border patrols.

‘The Biden administration is arguably more focused on monitoring Twitter posts than catching suspected TERRORISTS crossing the southern border,’ tweeted the Republican group on the House Judiciary Committee. 

Mark Morgan, former acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner, said: ‘His continued attempts to deflect responsibility for the disastrous and deadly crisis are just as dishonest as the non-sensical ‘solutions’ he put forward in this speech today.

‘Rather than be honest with the American people and set forth a strategy to reverse course to defend our nation’s borders, he doubled-down on his failed open-border policies.’

The number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has risen dramatically since Biden took office. There were more than 2.38 million people stopped during the past fiscal year, the first time the number has been higher than two million. 

A new rule to expel migrants who did not claim asylum in a third country en route to US 


  • Accept 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela every month
  • Can come to the U.S. for two years if they are sponsored, have background checks and receive work authorization 
  • Expel migrants from those countries who try to cross the border illegally and impose a five-year ban on reentry
  • Individuals from Mexico and Panama will not be eligible for parole in the U.S. 
  • Mexico has agreed to accept 30,000 expelled migrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela
  • Welcome 20,000 refugees from Latin America and Caribbean nations in 2023 and 2024 
  • Migrants will have to set up an appointment using a cell phone app for appointments at entry points 
  • U.S. giving $23 million in humanitarian assistance to Mexico and Central America
  • Increasing funding available to border cities and those receiving an influx of migrants 


The Department of Homeland Security also announced it was seeking a new regulation that would allow it to reject migrants who travel through a third country without trying to claim asylum there. 

The idea was developed under Mr. Trump, allowing migrants to be denied asylum if they had passed through Mexico, for example, without trying to claim asylum there before reaching the U.S. 

The Department of Homeland Security said its proposal would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they ‘fail to seek protection in a country through which they traveled on their way to the United States.’

Migrants who violated the rule would be barred from seeking entry to the United States for five years.  

That infuriated members of Biden’s own party. 

Democratic Sens. Bob Menéndez (N.J.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) and Alex Padilla (Calif.) released a statement condemning what they said amounted to a ‘transit ban’ making it almost impossible for some people to claim asylum.

‘We are also concerned about the administration’s new transit ban regulation that will disregard our obligations under international law by banning families from seeking asylum at the border, likely separating families and stranding migrants fleeing persecution and torture in countries unable to protect them,’ they said.

Immigration reformers said Biden was continuing to rely on ideas pushed by Trump’s hardline immigration adviser Stephen Miller. 

‘Continuing to rely on, and expand, Stephen Miller’s Title 42 and proposing expanding an asylum ban advances chaotic and ineffective policy while trampling on some of our proudest traditions as a welcoming nation,’ said Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of America’s Voice.

‘We should be finding ways to fix and fully resource our asylum process, not devising ways to prevent people seeking safety from accessing the asylum process under our laws.’


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