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Biden's immigration order sparks reactions across Connecticut

FILE: President Joe Biden waves to the crowd after speaking at the Safer Communities Summit at the University of Hartford on June 16, 2023.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
FILE: President Joe Biden waves to the crowd after speaking at the Safer Communities Summit at the University of Hartford on June 16, 2023.

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Connecticut is reacting to President Joe Biden's conditional suspension of asylum claims processing at the southern border. The halt effectively takes place immediately and when unauthorized crossings exceed 2,500 over a seven-day average.

Connecticut State Rep. James Sánchez, a Democrat, said the decision impacts immigrant communities and politics.

“In any country in this world, you have to have some kind of control and process for immigration,” Sánchez said. “But as a president, he needs to assure that, first of all, those that do live in the country — they come first, and then a balance with the immigration policy.”

Sánchez said the significant difficulties faced by New York immigration authorities and the influx of immigrants into New Haven have overwhelmed the system.

In a press brief, the Biden administration said they will uphold existing agreements to also repatriate individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The administration said they’ve recently repatriated individuals to India, China, Uzbekistan, Mauritania and Senegal. The administration plans to improve its capacity to repatriate migrants to the Eastern Hemisphere.

Also, individuals who do not declare a substantive fear of returning to their home countries will be subject to immediate removal within a few days, if not hours.

Barbara Lopez, director of Make the Road Connecticut, feels let down by the president's decision.

“I am really disappointed that the Biden administration took one of the hardest steps by closing the U.S. border with Mexico and stopping people from seeking safety,” Lopez said.

Make the Road Connecticut represents a diverse immigrant community in Bridgeport and Hartford, from newly arrived immigrants to longtime residents.

"Closing the border won’t prevent people from coming to the border. They will compete to come to the border, and now they’re forced to wait in Mexico in crowded and unsafe conditions.”

Lopez said Make the Road Connecticut plans to take action in response to the executive order.

“We’re going to focus on sending a message to the Biden administration to really take action in protecting families by granting work permits, ” Lopez said.

“We have a lot of immigrants who are trying to get to America to better their lives and their families. But, it has to be done in a way. There's a partnership, not come here and demanding rights,” Sánchez said. “When we have other people who actually have paid into the system, aren’t really getting any type of service. We're here to help, but it's crucial that immigrants work with authorities rather than making demands."

According to Vera Institute for Justice over 254,000 non-citizens residing in Connecticut are potentially at risk of deportation.

The limitations on entry do not apply to individuals who follow a safe and orderly process, like using the CBP One mobile application, or those who choose another lawful pathway to come to the United States.

Some people are comparing this immigration policy to former President Donald Trump’s. Lopez maintained that Make the Road Connecticut will continue to advocate for all immigrants' dignity, respect and safety, regardless of who is in power.

Amid her disappointment, Lopez remains hopeful that President Biden will rethink his priorities and offer aid to immigrant families.

Sánchez said he was optimistic about Biden’s re-election chances, especially among Latino voters and those with ties to undocumented individuals.

“To criticize President Biden I think would be a discredit to him and his administration, for the last several years, he has been working and supporting the immigrants," Sánchez said.

A spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Justice said it's ready to handle any legal challenges regarding this rule.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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