House progressives announce steps to save asylum following Biden border shutdown

Washington DC - Immigrants' rights advocates and progressives in Congress gathered outside the Capitol on Tuesday in opposition to a new anti-asylum measure imposed by President Joe Biden.

Democratic members of the House of Representatives and immigrants' rights advocates voice their opposition to President Joe Biden's new anti-migrant executive order outside the US Capitol.
Democratic members of the House of Representatives and immigrants' rights advocates voice their opposition to President Joe Biden's new anti-migrant executive order outside the US Capitol.  © Chip Somodevilla / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The White House sparked outrage after announcing an executive order allowing the president to close the US-Mexico border to people seeking asylum when the seven-day average of daily border encounters between ports of entry stands above 2,500.

As arrivals already exceed this number, the border shutdown is set to take effect immediately.

"The executive order that we had today is heartbreaking. It is painful. It will cause people dying every single day," Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said at the Capitol Hill rally, also attended by Representatives Greg Casar, Delia Ramirez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Pramila Jayapal, and more.

Is Biden competent to serve again? Here's what health experts say
Joe Biden Is Biden competent to serve again? Here's what health experts say

"As I stand before you, I am trembling that our government continues to use the same barbaric policies," she added.

Biden's action is widely seen as an election tactic ahead of the November rematch with Donald Trump. It has sparked furious backlash from human rights advocates, including threats of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The organization and its partners successfully challenged a 2018 Trump-era asylum ban, which they say shows marked similarities to Biden's new measure.

"It was illegal when Trump did it, and it is no less illegal today," said the ACLU's Chief Political and Advocacy Officer Deirdre Schifeling.

Congressman Greg Casar teases new legislation to save asylum

Congressman Greg Casar is drafting legislation to address the root causes of migration to the US.
Congressman Greg Casar is drafting legislation to address the root causes of migration to the US.  © Chip Somodevilla / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

During Tuesday's rally, Congressman Greg Casar of Texas announced he is drafting legislation to save asylum – an alternative approach to the Biden administration's new restrictions.

"Before we blame asylum seekers for fleeing hunger and violence, we should first end US policies that contribute to starvation and instability in their home countries," Casar said in a statement ahead of the rally.

"That’s why I'm drafting legislation to change counterproductive US policies that push people out of their homes," he added.

Biden cancels $1.2 billion more in student debt
Joe Biden Biden cancels $1.2 billion more in student debt

Casar's legislation is expected to call for an end sanctions and embargoes and other US policies driving debt, poverty, and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. It will also touch on the US response to the climate crisis, which disproportionately impacts people in the Global South, and expand protections for immigrant families.

"Instead of enforcing today’s shortsighted executive order, President Biden should end sanctions in Latin America, and update our trade and economic policies," Casar urged.

"This would reduce pressure on our limited border resources without reverting to harsh, Trump-lite measures."

Cover photo: Chip Somodevilla / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

More on Migration: