Reversing Trump’s border policy will take months

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – President-elect Joe Biden says it will take months to reverse some of President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration, raising the expectations he raised during his campaign and one that proponents that insist on swift action on this matter can dampen.

His comments on Tuesday match those of two of his top foreign policy advisers in an interview with Spanish telecom service EFE. Monday to put the brakes on reversing Trump’s restrictive asylum policy. Susan Rice, Biden’s new domestic policy adviser, and Jake Sullivan, his choice of national security adviser, as well as Biden himself, warned that acting too quickly could trigger another crisis at the border.

Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said on Wednesday that he has already started discussing the issues with the Mexican president and “ our friends in Latin America, ” and that “ the timeline is to do it so that we in fact make it better and not worse ‘.

“The last thing we need is to say we stop immediately, access asylum, the way it’s being managed now, and then end up with 2 million people at our border,” Biden said.

He noted that more funding is needed for more asylum judges to process applications, and promised that while he will work to relax Trump’s asylum restrictions, “it will likely take the next six months to put that in place.”

His comments come because the number of interceptions along the border has increased in recent months. US authorities encountered migrants on the border with Mexico more than 70,000 times in October and four times as many in November as in April. Some experts predict that the wave could intensify in the early months of Biden’s presidency, in response to the damage done by the two hurricanes that ravaged Central America and the economic impact of the pandemic, as well as expectations of a more humane approach to immigration. of the Biden administration.

Sullivan and Rice both said in their interview with EFE that Biden will take executive action to address issues with the immigration system where possible, and highlighted plans to provide humanitarian assistance and help strengthen Latin American economies to try the influx of immigrants to the US.

Biden “will work to immediately reverse Trump’s deals with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that the US has transferred asylum seekers to those countries, and will fulfill his promise to end a program from the United States. Trump era sending undocumented migrants back to Mexico to await legal proceedings, Sullivan said. On his campaign website, Biden pledged to end the agreement with Mexico known as the Migrant Protection Protocols within the first 100 days of his presidency.

But Sullivan stressed that many of those reforms will take time.

He warned that “increasing processing capacity and changing border policy will take time,” and warned those considering fleeing to the US to wait, predicting it will take “months” for the Biden administration will fully implement their plans regarding Latin America. .

“Given the pandemic and the large number of migrants already waiting in Northern Mexico, now is not the time to take the dangerous journey to the United States,” he said. It takes months before we can fully implement our plans. “

Rice said that “the processing capacity at the border is not like a light that you can turn on and off just like that.”

“Our priority is to reopen border asylum processing in accordance with the capacity to do so safely and to protect public health, especially in the context of COVID-19. This effort will begin immediately, but it will take months to develop the capacity we will need to fully reopen, ”she said.

But Michele Heisler, medical director of Physicians for Human Rights, expressed concern about the pace of change during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, saying there should be no “public health reasons” for maintaining extraordinary powers to remove people from the United States immediately. to expel. without the possibility to apply for asylum.

Rice was noncommittal about when Biden would rescind that authority, which Trump introduced in March on the grounds that it contained the coronavirus, although reports by The Associated Press and others have found that government scientists saw no evidence for it.

Still, other pro-immigrant lawyers said on Tuesday that while they understood it would take time to untangle some of Trump’s changes at the border, they underscored a sense of urgency. They praised Biden’s emphasis on working with Mexico and Central America on joint solutions.

“The Biden government’s work to end cruelty must begin immediately,” said Linda Rivas, executive director and business manager of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas. “Human rights and dignity must be central.”

Guerline Joseph, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said it was a “matter of life and death,” with many asylum seekers waiting in extremely violent Mexican border towns to hear their cases in the United States.

She said during a conference call with reporters that she was concerned about how many asylum seekers will be admitted by Biden, “but we’re done here, determined that the process will work for anyone affected.”


AP writer Elliot Spagat contributed reporting.