Expert Pitch

Despite refugee boost and family reunification, Biden has ‘long road to go’

Cornell University
4-May-2021 4:05 PM EDT, by Cornell University

On Monday, the Biden administration announced a significant increase in the number refugees allowed to enter the United States. The announcement comes as the administration also begins to reunite parents separated from their children under the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

Ian Kysel, professor of law and co-director of the Asylum and Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic, is a founder and director of the International Migrants Bill of Rights Initiative. 

Kysel says:

“Setting an ambitious goal for the U.S. Refugee Admission Program is an important signal of the Biden-Harris Administration’s intention to reassert a leadership role in the protection of those fleeing persecution.

“Sadly for refugees, President Biden continues to embrace former President Trump’s COVID-19 border restrictions that send many asylum-seekers back in harm’s way while letting thousands of tourists and business travelers cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Attorney General Garland has yet to roll back Sessions/Barr limits on those fleeing gang, sexual and gender-based violence. There is still a long road to go before the U.S. is solidly back on the right side of international refugee law.”

 Maria Cristina Garcia, professor of history and Latino studies, is an expert on U.S. migration and refugees, including authoring the book “The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America”.

Garcia says:

“The refugee cap has always fluctuated in response to the humanitarian, foreign policy and security concerns of both Republican and Democratic administrations. While the cap shifts from year to year, the definition of who or what a refugee is does not change, but it should as part of Biden’s plans for sweeping immigration reform.

“There are many different types of forced migrants in the world today who are currently excluded from consideration for the few, but highly coveted, refugee visas.”

Chiara Galli, sociologist and Klarman Postdoctoral Fellow, studies family immigration and is authoring a forthcoming book on Central American unaccompanied minors' experiences in the American asylum system.

Galli says:

“It is crucial is that families be reunited as quickly as possible since separation can cause children irreparable developmental harm and short and long-term health consequences, according to medical professionals. 

“Children taken their from parents have been made to apply for asylum alone. Yet children seldom possess the detailed information necessary to successfully file an asylum claim, severely harming their chances of winning asylum. Parents are now being admitted under temporary humanitarian parole and will be expected to request asylum once they arrive. Given the current backlogs, this would mean prolonged and anxiety-producing legal limbo for these families.”

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