Not everyone supports immigration change

President Biden’s asylum restrictions spark much debate


Local community leaders and officials had a variety of responses to President Biden’s move to address the ongoing migrant influx at the United States’ southern border with Mexico on Tuesday, when he signed an executive order that temporarily limits access to asylum for migrants who cross the border illegally. The measure aims to address one of Biden’s most pressing challenges just months before the presidential election.

The order will shut down asylum requests when the average number of daily encounters at ports of entry exceeds 2,500, and reopen the process when the number falls below 1,500. Exceptions to the order include unaccompanied children, victims of severe trafficking, and those who have medical emergencies or are facing imminent life-threatening situations. Migrants who do not meet the requirement of having a “credible fear” when they apply for asylum will not qualify, a departure from the longstanding protocol of allowing migrants to seek asylum regardless of how they entered the country.

Biden’s order has elicited varied responses from local community leaders and officials. Glen Cove resident Mary Rose Paster, who has helped migrant children gain political asylum in the U.S., highlighted the complexities of migration and the importance of not denying asylum to refugees.

“If they were returned to El Salvador after rape and beatings there, they would have been murdered,” Paster said in a Facebook comment to the Herald. “This is a complex question to respond to. Migration must be contained; (but) asylum should not be denied to refugees.”

Sea Cliff Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy highlighted the broader impact of the border crisis, describing it as a humanitarian issue.

“It is a crisis that has spread far beyond the border, as a flood of migrants has overwhelmed the resources of cities as far away as New York,” Kennedy wrote in a statement to the Herald. “The suffering of the migrants at the hands of drug cartels, human traffickers and exploitative employers is heartbreaking. We must recognize that the foremost victims of a porous, chaotic border are the immigrants themselves. Compassion and decency demand that we do not allow the current situation to continue.”

Glen Cove Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis, saying the order is “nothing more than a cynical ploy, five months before the election, to convince Americans demanding a return to law and order that he’s on their side.”

“Our community welcomes those who come here legally to pursue the American dream,” Panzenbeck added. “But the Biden administration has ignored the crisis at our southern border, as drugs and criminals have flowed steadily into communities like ours, and voters are fed up.”

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino echoed Panzenbeck’s sentiments, saying the order fails to address the core issues at the border.

“After rolling back border protections and encouraging millions of illegal migrant crossings, President Biden is now signing weak laws that still allow thousands of migrants to enter our nation illegally each day,” Saladino said in a statement. “This political stunt is not nearly strong enough to solve the border crisis.”

In contrast, Connie Pinilla, president of the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, supported Biden’s order, describing it as a responsible approach to managing the border crisis.

“I don’t think it’s unjust, in that it is taking action and approaching it in a responsible way,” Pinilla said. “I’m not savvy to the staffing of what they have and the issues that come up on a day-to-day basis, but I can make the general comment that I do believe it’s a problem that has to be managed properly to keep the right from pointing at the Democrats and saying, ‘You’re not doing anything about it.’”

In response to the border crisis, Congressmen Tom Suozzi and Henry Cuellar have launched the Democrats for Border Security Task Force, comprising 26 House Democrats who are dedicated to addressing immigration and border security. Suozzi and Cuellar will serve as co-chairs.

“This task force will advocate for common-sense, bipartisan compromise to achieve much-needed and long-overdue comprehensive immigration reform,” Suozzi wrote in a statement to the Herald. “We will work with anybody from any wing of any party if they genuinely care about solving this problem. Too many in politics today are focused on pointing out the problem and keep busy figuring out what tricks they have ‘up their sleeves’ to weaponize the border crisis. This task force will ‘roll up our sleeves’ to try to fix it.”