Humanitarian groups to help with US immigration decisions

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According to a report published by The Guardian, the Biden administration has tasked six humanitarian groups with making recommendations on which migrants should be allowed to remain in the US. The move comes in a bid to reduce the rapid expulsion of people from the US under federal pandemic-related powers that prevent people from seeking asylum.


It’s understood that the groups will determine who is the most vulnerable, on the Mexican side of the border, but the criteria on which their choices will be based have not been made public. 

With large volumes of people crossing the US southern border with Mexico, the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to ease public health restrictions implemented by former US President Donald Trump and kept in place by current President, Joe Biden.


250 asylum seekers

At the start of May, Biden increased America’s refugee and asylum intake quota following a huge public backlash after he seemingly sought to avoid a key campaign promise to raise the refugee cap. The administration is hoping to welcome up to 62,500 refugees into the US before the end of 2021.

The government recently announced that it is looking to grant entry into the US for up to 250 asylum seekers a day who will be referred by the human rights’ groups. It’s understood that the referral system will be in place until July 31.

It’s hoped, by the human rights’ groups, that the US government will have lifted the public health restrictions by the end of July. However, the Biden administration has offered no assurances that this will happen.

According to recent data, nearly 800 asylum seekers have already been allowed into the US since May 3. The human rights’ groups involved have said that there is already more demand than they can meet.



All but one of the six human rights’ groups had not been publicly named initially, the exception being the International Rescue Committee.

However, two people with direct knowledge of the referral system identified the other groups involved to The Guardian, and reportedly include London-based Save the Children; two US-based organizations, HIAS and Kids in Need of Defense; and two Mexico-based organizations, Asylum Access and the Institute for Women in Migration.

The two sources asked to remain anonymous as the information was not attended for public release, according to The Guardian report.

Asylum Access told The Guardian that its involvement in the referral scheme is ‘minimal’.


Too much power 

Critics of the referral system have said that ‘way too much power is being entrusted to a small number of organizations’, while also slamming the secrecy surrounding the scheme. Critics have primarily questioned why the organizations that have been chosen, were chosen.

They also argued that there are ‘no assurances that the most vulnerable or deserving of migrants will be selected to seek asylum’.

The human rights’ groups involved in the consortium now fear that their offices could be mobbed by asylum seekers now that their participation has been made public.

Spokeswoman for the UN office, Sibylla Brodzinsky, said: “The consortium was formed after the US government asked the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ office in Mexico for the names of organizations with deep experience and capacity in Mexico.”

“We’ve had long relationships with them [the consortium] and they’re trusted partners,” she added.


Who is eligible?

Immigration experts not involved in the referral system have questioned how the consortium determines who is eligible to seek asylum in the US.

Analyst at the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, Jessica Bolter, said: “It has been murky. The administration is trying to quietly be humane without encouraging more people to come, buts it’s a balancing act that’s unlikely to succeed.”

“Setting out clear and accurate information about how and who might get in might lead to fewer migrants making the trip, so there’s not this game of chance that kind of seems to be in place right now,” she added. can help with US employment-based visas

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