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Rice Baker Institute expert available to comment on Biden administration’s proposal for new, highly restrictive asylum policy

On Jan. 5, the Biden administration announced sweeping changes to migration policy at the U.S. border with Mexico. Kelsey Norman , fellow for the Middle East at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy (BIPP), is available to discuss the administration’s plans with the media.

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“Three nationalities of arriving asylum seekers — Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians — will be eligible for a small-scale program whereby they can apply to enter the U.S. under a humanitarian parole program, so long as they have a sponsor residing in the U.S. and meet other requirements,” said Norman, who also directs the Women’s Rights, Human Rights and Refugees Program at BIPP. “However, a more worrisome aspect of the policy change involves adding these same nationalities to those that can be expelled to Mexico under the Title 42 ban , meaning that individuals arriving at the southern border will be unable to seek asylum.”

Norman said the administration also proposed instituting a “transit ban,” similar to the "safe third country agreements" that were attempted under former President Donald Trump, whereby individuals are required to seek asylum in the first country they pass through and can be returned to that country if they attempt to instead seek asylum in the U.S.

“While expanding pathways to protection for specific nationalities of arriving asylum seekers is a positive step, only a small proportion of potential asylum seekers will be able to meet the onerous requirements of advanced humanitarian parole,” Norman said. “Asylum seekers with fewer resources who arrive at the U.S. border should still have the right to apply for protection under U.S. and international law, and should not be returned to northern Mexican border cities where their safety cannot be guaranteed.

“The administration campaigned on a promise of ending the use of the Title 42 ban to expel asylum seekers and has been fighting the ban in court,” she continued. “It should not be expanding the use of Title 42 to further infringe on the rights of asylum seekers to legally access safety.”

Norman’s research focuses on global refugee and migration issues, as well as women’s rights, human rights, comparative political institutions and international relations. More information is available at .

To schedule an interview with Norman, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or [email protected].