Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on Friday that the success of a strict new asylum restriction proposed by the Biden administration will depend on its political will to “defy their open borders base,” just as the administration faces a furious backlash from the left over the proposal.
Cornyn led a delegation of six Republican senators to the south Texas border and was asked about the new rule introduced last month by the Biden administration, which when implemented will automatically make migrants ineligible for asylum if they have crossed illegally and failed to claim asylum in another country through which they have passed.
While left-wing critics have painted the move as similar to the Trump-era transit ban — a comparison the administration has rejected — Republicans have been cautious in offering support, with some immigration hawks expressing concern about the loopholes through which that ineligibility can be challenged .
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Cornyn was dismissive of any need for any new policies to fix the ongoing border crisis that has led to more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in FY 2022 and an FY 2023 that is on track to top that number.
“We don’t necessarily need any more laws or any more rules. What we need is the Biden administration’s will to enforce the laws that are already on the books,” he said.
As for the new asylum ineligibility rule itself, Cornyn is taking a wait-and-see approach, and noted the political pressure the administration is taking from its left flank.
“The Biden administration has made some proposed rule changes, but the burden is on them to prove that they actually will work,” he said. “And that they actually have the political will to defend some of their open borders base in order to fix that catch-and-release system that’s responsible for a lot of the asylum-seekers simply melting into the landscape, never to be heard from again .“
Cornyn’s remarks suggest that Republicans are unlikely to come to the Biden administration’s rescue amid what has been a battering from its typical allies on the left. Democrats in both chambers have declared themselves “deeply disappointed” by the policy.
That criticism was on display this week when members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus highlighted their concerns with the rule, including noting restrictions on a parole program announced in January, and ongoing tech issues with the CBP One app used to schedule appointments.
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“Not all asylum seekers can count on having a sponsor. You also have to apply via the [CBP One] app, which is complicated to begin with and collapses on many occasions. And so and in addition to that, of course, and if you don’t seek refuge in other countries, and you cannot prove that you seek refuge in other countries, you cannot opt for parole. So these are trouble policies,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat, DN.Y., said in a press conference.
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Immigration groups have called the move “reprehensible and unacceptable,” while the American Civil Liberties Union has promised to sue.
The administration has pushed back against the criticism, noting that the asylum regulation comes as the administration is making access to asylum easier via the app, and also is expanding legal pathways and working with countries in the hemisphere. It has also pointed to indications in January that the introduction of the parole program led to decreased illegal crossings at the border.
“We are a nation of immigrants, and we are a nation of laws. We are strengthening the availability of legal, orderly pathways for migrants to come to the United States, at the same time proposing new consequences on those who fail to use processes made available to them by the United States and its regional partners,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the rule.
Multiple outlets have reported that the rule has also divided administration officials. This week, CBS News reported that administration officials had considered the rule back in 2021, but rejected it because it was likely to get struck down in the courts.
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In response to that report, an administration official told Fox News Digital: “As a matter of good governance, we take all legal considerations into account before putting any policy forward, and the recent proposed rule reflects those considerations.”