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Tougher Rules at the U.S. Border

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    Migrants cross the Rio Grande river in an attempt to enter El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP/Andres Leighton)
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    President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Border Patrol agents along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
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    Migrants wait along a border wall after crossing near Yuma, Arizona. (AP/Gregory Bull)
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    Migrants gather at a crossing into El Paso, Texas. (AP/Christian Chavez)
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    A girl holds her stuffed animal high above the water as migrants, many from Haiti, wade the Rio Grande river. They are leaving Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, to avoid deportation. (AP/Felix Marquez)
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Each day on average, more than 2,700 immigrants enter the United States. Some do so legally; many do not. In January, President Joe Biden announced the government would begin turning away some who cross the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully. But will that stem the swelling tide of immigrants?

Homeland Security officials say they will begin denying asylum to some immigrants. New rules say asylum seekers must ask for refuge in any country traveled through en route to the United States. No request, no entry.

“Do not just show up at the border,” President Biden cautioned while announcing changes. “Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”

Here’s how the new policy works:

The United States will accept 30,000 people per month from four countries: Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Those countries are ones with a large increase in recent months.

U.S. officials stopped persons from those nations over 82,000 times last November alone! Most flee bad living conditions, failing economies, natural disasters, or corrupt governments. Many seek asylum.

Legal asylum seekers (asylees) may stay in the United States to await trial. But with a two-million-case backlog, U.S. immigration cases often take years.

Under President Biden’s new rules, migrants from the named countries will be able to work legally in the United States. But there’s a catch: They must come legally. They must also arrive with eligible sponsors and clear background checks.

“This new process is orderly,” President Biden says. “It’s safe and humane, and it works.”

Asylum and immigration advocates aren’t so sure.

“President Biden . . . spoke sympathetically about people fleeing persecution,” says Jonathan Blazer of the American Civil Liberties Union. “But the plan he announced further ties his administration to . . . poisonous anti-immigrant policies.”

Plus, the policies don’t define next steps for immigrants currently at the U.S.-Mexico border—many of whom didn’t ask permission from Mexico first.

Mexico plays a large role in the new strategy, says immigration expert Theresa Cardinal Brown. The United States cannot send non-Mexican immigrants back to Mexico unless the country agrees to take them. She calls Mexico “pivotal to the U.S. border management.”

The only lasting way to change the immigration system is through Congress. That has proven difficult since lawmakers can’t agree on a strategy.

Meanwhile, asylees and immigrants pour into the “Land of Opportunity” by the hundreds of thousands. Christians must seek wisdom about how to help fellow image-bearers while obeying the law and protecting resident citizens.

“The actions we’re announcing will make things better,” the President says, “but will not fix the border problem completely.”

Pray for those facing persecution, hardship, and tyranny around the globe. Pray that God would grant compassion and wisdom to those making laws about how to help people seeking asylum.

Why? Christians are to show love and kindness to others. At the same time, God says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1) Sometimes it’s hard to see how to do both.