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United States President Joe Biden has issued an executive order limiting asylum claims, further tightening measures to control the growing number of people crossing the southern border. The order, which went into effect recently, is seen as a response to the upcoming presidential election in November, where Biden will face off against former President Donald Trump. Biden, who promised to reverse Trump’s strict border policies, believes this new order is necessary to reset the US asylum system. However, critics such as the ACLU have criticized the order, claiming it will prevent individuals from exercising their legal right to seek asylum, endangering thousands of lives.

Asylum is a legal principle that allows individuals to seek protection when fleeing from war, persecution, or human rights violations in their home countries. Under US immigration law, non-citizens on US soil are entitled to seek asylum if they fear for their lives or freedom due to race, religion, nationality, social group membership, or political opinion. The current system often leads to a backlog of cases, incentivizing individuals who are not eligible for asylum to cross the border and submit an application. Migrant rights groups argue that restricting asylum claims goes against the US government’s legal and moral obligations, potentially exposing applicants to life-threatening situations or exploitation by criminal organizations at the border.

Biden’s executive order places a limit on the number of asylum seekers who can enter the US through the southern border within a specific timeframe. When daily detentions and border crossings exceed an average of 2,500, the ability to apply for asylum after irregular entry will be largely suspended. Exceptions include individuals expressing fear of persecution and those deemed particularly vulnerable, who may still be eligible for other forms of humanitarian protection. The order came into effect on June 5, with the actual impact depending on the number of crossings in the following days and weeks.

The new restrictions could have several consequences for migrants and asylum seekers, including denial of asylum for those in need, increased risks associated with taking dangerous routes into the country, and delays in scheduling asylum appointments through the CBP One app. Removal procedures for those caught crossing irregularly during the suspension could involve deportation and bans on re-entering the US for up to five years. The use of a law similar to that invoked by Trump for his controversial immigration policies has drawn criticism and will likely face legal challenges in court.

There are lingering questions about what will happen to migrants and asylum seekers who arrive irregularly when a suspension is in place under the new policy. The lack of funding for increased deportations and uncertainty regarding the treatment of nationals from various countries remain unresolved issues. While the ACLU has pledged to challenge Biden’s policy in court, concerns persist about the legality and efficacy of the restrictions. Criticism from both sides of the political aisle underscores the complex and contentious nature of immigration policy in the US.

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