The highlights this week: Biden’s new asylum policies at the U.S.-Mexico border draw criticism, Honduras announces plans to swap its recognition of Taiwan for China, and Nicaragua says it wants to sever ties with the Vatican.

A New-Old Playbook

Since mid-January, when U.S. authorities began piloting a new mobile app for some migrants to schedule asylum appointments at the U.S.-Mexico border, app users and their lawyers have repeatedly reported problems with it. Many claimed appointments were hard to come by. Some darker-skinned migrants said that the app’s photo feature did not recognize their faces.

The app is part of a suite of policies the U.S. government is testing ahead of May 11, when President Joe Biden is expected to lift the United States’ COVID-19 state of emergency. That would also trigger the end of a pandemic-era rule known as Title 42, which U.S. authorities have used to turn away some asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border since March 2020.

The Justice and Homeland Security departments, meanwhile, have published draft rules that would disqualify many people from seeking asylum at the southwestern U.S. border after May 11, though some Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans with U.S. sponsors would be eligible to enter the United States by air on a two-year parole. Last week, the New York Times reported that the Biden administration was also considering restarting a policy of detaining migrant families that prompted lawsuits during the Obama and Trump years.

Altogether, the new policies have caused U.S. migrant and human rights advocates to accuse Biden of replicating former President Donald Trump’s harsh immigration crackdown despite Biden’s campaign promises of a more compassionate approach. And they’re not the only ones pushing back: Some Latin American politicians have publicly signaled doubts about Biden’s agenda.


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