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The Importance of Fair and Orderly Pathways to Alleviate Border Pressures and Advance Safety and Justice

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Opinion Pieces by Andrea Flores and Andrew Selee Underscore Success and Importance of Safe, Fair, Orderly Migration Pathways 

Washington, DC – Two leading experts have new and prominent opinion essays that highlight the importance of the Biden Administration’s safe, fair and orderly migration pathways, especially the parole programs and other efforts to create alternatives to a dangerous trek to the border or dangerous crossings between ports of entry for migrants seeking asylum. 

Writing in The New York Times, former Biden and Obama advisor (and current FWD.us VP for Immigration Policy and Campaigns) Andrea Flores, writes,A Better Border Policy Is Possible,” while Migration Policy Institute President Andrew Selee writesThe Border Crisis That Wasn’t: Washington Has Found a Formula for Managing Migration—and Now Must Build on It,” in Foreign Affairs. While the two experts’ essays aren’t entirely aligned, notably on asylum restrictions and border enforcement efforts, they share assessments on the successes of legal pathways that alleviate border pressures and calls for building on these approaches as Congress continues to abdicate its responsibility to deliver a legislative overhaul of the entire immigration system.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

“New pathways for people to come in an orderly and safe manner are working and provide a model on which to build. The alternatives to walking across Mexico or attempting to enter between ports of entry are part of a series of measures by the Biden administration to reduce pressure on the border, reunify families and advance solutions to migration challenges using the President’s existing powers under current law. We still need a broader modernization of our entire immigration system and for Congress and the Republican Party to come to the table on real solutions. For its part, the Biden administration needs to do more as well, continuing to lean into safe, fair and orderly pathways for migration and broadening access, delivering work authorization for immigrants already here so that they can support themselves and maximize their contributions to the U.S. economy, and using its existing powers to deliver TPS, work permits and protection from deportation to more communities with deep roots and long-term ties to the U.S. 

The opponents of immigration are interested in neither safe, legal, nor orderly pathways for migrants and are suing the Biden administration to block successful parole programs. They are in a competition to see who can be the most cruel, deadly and dehumanizing while deploying white nationalist talking points about immigrants “invading” our country to do us harm. The President can draw a sharp contrast between those seeking real solutions under existing law and those seeking to perpetuate and politicize chaos, often in violation of existing law.”

Read excerpts from Andrea Flores in New York Times, A Better Border Policy Is Possible”:

“Abandoning our nation’s moral commitment to protect asylum seekers is not the way forward. Instead, we can give people new legal options to work and reunite with family members in the United States. While far from perfect, the Biden administration’s parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans could serve as a model for what is possible. This policy provides safer options to people who are unlikely to meet the legal requirements for asylum, but who still have urgent humanitarian reasons to flee their homes.

…even with the [asylum] ban in place, a significant number of people have been making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border — preliminary numbers show that in July, the amount of people arriving daily has gone up, illustrating the need to find a better legal solution.

The Biden administration’s approach to border policy has been imperfect, but it does represent a promising shift. The approach also includes inviting certain migrants to apply for refugee status in Mexico, creating regional processing options and opening up a virtual appointments process at ports of entry.

…If proponents of a secure border are serious about lowering border crossing numbers and decreasing unauthorized migration, they should support Mr. Biden’s attempts to create new legal pathways. Instead, a coalition of Republican attorneys general is challenging the president’s parole program. In Congress, Senate Republicans are trying to eliminate the same parole authority that allowed Afghans to temporarily resettle in the United States. There have been no challenges to the use of the parole authority to bring Ukrainians to the United States. These actions reveal that our current fight over the border is not about the number of people trying to come here — it is about which should be allowed to come.

…At a moment of record global displacement, we can’t keep waiting for Congress to modernize our immigration laws. Safe legal pathways are good for the people who use our immigration system. Mr. Biden has taken some critical steps to give migrants better options, but with no hope of congressional action in the near future, more is needed.”

Read excerpts from Andrew Selee in Foreign Affairs, The Border Crisis That Wasn’t: Washington Has Found a Formula for Managing Migration—and Now Must Build on It:

“if the strategy works over the long term, it will mark an ambitious effort to reimagine how governments manage the flow of migrants in a safer, more organized way that moves the admittance process much farther upstream, long before most potential migrants reach the border. And the need for such an effort grows more crucial by the day. With people around the world more mobile than ever and many developed countries facing labor shortages, governments are struggling to ensure that people arrive through legal pathways.

Migration systems have long been plagued by a mismatch between the supply of willing workers abroad, some of whom also have protection needs, and the narrow legal avenues for entry, despite the real demand for labor in destination countries. Without legal pathways, irregular migration routes multiply. This deficit has exposed migrants to dangerous journeys, undermined the credibility of immigration systems, and poisoned the politics around immigration in country after country, not least in the United States. If the Biden administration’s approach succeeds, it would set a precedent that could be adapted elsewhere—to the benefit of both migrants and the destination countries.

…the Biden administration has understood that enforcement alone will never stop migrants who are determined to enter the United States. So the administration has combined enhanced enforcement with a second measure: the expansion of legal pathways for entry for migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. By targeting the groups from Latin America and the Caribbean that are most likely to attempt a dangerous journey north with a smuggler, this policy aims to encourage the use of legal avenues for entry while discouraging illegal entries … the largest expansion of legal pathways is through a new set of sponsorship initiatives.

…The United States and the rest of the world have seen the devastation and tragedy of dysfunctional migration systems. A safe, fair, and orderly migration policy in the United States is starting to emerge; if it succeeds, it could serve as an example of what might be possible elsewhere in the world.”