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Opinion | Why allowing Migrants with TPS to Sponsor Asylum Seekers Gives False Hope

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This is hardly a comprehensive, positive, or progressive immigration policy

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On January 5, the Biden administration surprised the Western world with a new immigration policy that allows migrants with permanent and even temporary protected status (TPS) from certain Caribbean countries to move 30,000 family members every month to the U.S. by giving them a work permit. While well-intentioned, this approach to asylum carries unintended consequences that are unclear and risky.

The Administration’s sudden policy shift reveals possible immigration deadlock and economic headwinds for both applicants and their sponsors. Essentially, it may not be in the best interest of those in the U.S. with temporary status as they prepare to apply for family members—nor does it offer substantial long-term immigration provisions for those who will eventually come to the country.

This approach to asylum carries unintended consequences that are unclear and risky.

President Biden unveiled what he promoted as a safe and lawful way for qualifying Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans with U.S.-based supporters to temporarily reside and work in the United States. However, this policy fails to offer a clear path to permanent status to those who wish to come. After all, asylum exists to help the most vulnerable—not generate financial profits or impoverish those already in economic precarity. “This policy shows a lack of understanding of the nature of asylum,” Alice Driver wrote in CNN Opinion. “People arriving at our border are often fleeing imminent threats to their lives,” Melissa Crow of the University of California Hastings College of Law told the Miami Herald.

Many people escaping these countries will likely need significant financial means to process their asylum application, and family members with TPS may not have the financial incentives to support their move. “This narrow benefit will exclude thousands of migrants fleeing violence and persecution who do not have the ability or economic means to qualify for the new parole process,” four U.S. Democrat Senators wrote in a joint press release following Biden’s announcement.

This policy fails to offer a clear path to permanent status to those who wish to come.

Today, there are over 400,000 migrants – 56,453 Haitians—with TPS in the U.S. who already contribute over $14 billion each year to the country’s economy. But TPS holders remain one of the most vulnerable groups in America, as many works low-income jobs such as restaurants, grocery stores, transportation, delivery, and warehousing. The idea that people with such low-income jobs could easily prove they can financially support the migration of loved ones to the U.S. while paying for housing and other necessary bills is unrealistic.

With this new policy, the Biden administration is simply conflating its already problematic immigration approach with a selective program that only allows certain people to migrate to the country with no clear path to socioeconomic success in America. As Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) put it, “the Administration is circumventing immigration law which will exacerbate chaos and confusion at the Southern border. The decision to move forward with an “unlawful” transit ban “erases the words and values etched on the Statue of Liberty.”

The idea […] is unrealistic.

It is wrong to allow selective entry to certain asylum seekers at the borders while refusing others based on their origins. “Biden is cherry-picking who gets the welcome mat, instead of setting up a system allowing everyone to apply for asylum, review each case and decide its merits,” AZ Central’s Elvia Díaz wrote.

The U.S. continues its discriminatory immigration policies that deny asylum to BIPOC migrants. And that is against federal law. “It is U.S. law that people can apply for asylum, regardless of their nationality or manner of entry,” Women’s Refugee Commission’s Senior Policy Adviser Savitri Arvey told Yahoo News.

This policy is yet another poor approach that puts migrants and their families into a spinning immigration cycle with no end in sight. “Biden’s new humanitarian parole program appears to have been designed as a carrot and stick strategy,” said David A. Carroll II of the Immigrant Family Services Institute.

Read also : TPS: the endless wait for Haitian applicants

Whether the country elects a Democrat or Republican President in 2024, there is no guarantee that TPS recipients will soon gain a clear path to permanent status. What is certain is that America cannot keep piling on migrants with no permanent status as a gesture of its goodwill to the world. This is hardly a comprehensive, positive, or progressive immigration policy. To resolve the immigration crisis, the U.S. needs to create a path to permanent status for TPS recipients before inviting migrants to bring loved ones into the country. Political shortcuts will only add a worsening complexity to the immigration crisis BIPOC migrants have faced for decades in this country.

By William Pierre-Louis, Jr. 

Cover photo : Children march with the Haitian and American flags. | © Joe Raedle/Getty


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William Pierre-Louis, Jr. is a political and financial opinion writer, focusing on social and financial issues, and political matters.

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