Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 4, 2024

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46 Advocacy Organizations Denounce Biden Executive Order on Asylum

“This action does not fix the problem and betrays American values.”

Washington, DCUpon learning of President Biden’s Executive Order on asylum, the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign condemns this action and calls for proactive policy solutions. 

This executive order, which will take immediate effect for the first time at midnight tonight – 12:01 am ET on June 5–temporarily suspends entry to people seeking asylum across the southern border, and deport people who enter the U.S. outside of border checkpoints without processing their asylum claims. There will be very few humanitarian exceptions to this rule, as credible fear screenings would be limited to extremely specific cases. The border closure will remain in place until encounters drop below 1,500 on average in a week and will then be triggered every time CBP encounters an average of 2,500 people per day in a week – a completely arbitrary number – between ports of entry. This will essentially close the border indefinitely for people seeking safety. 

The order invokes Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, following the exact playbook of the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban in 2017. 

Research shows that such deterrence-only policies do not work. And notably, the vast majority of Americans stand with #WelcomeWithDignity’s position, supporting a legal, fair asylum system that does not punish vulnerable people for seeking protection in our country. 

A 2023 poll from Fox News found that about 73% of voters want to make it easier to immigrate legally, while 73% support increasing the number of immigration judges to process asylum claims faster.

Additionally, proposals to ban asylum and separate families at the border are widely rejected by voters. A March 2024 Immigration Hub/Global Strategy Group poll showed that 66% of voters in battleground states reject banning asylum, and 79% oppose reinstating family separation, which this new order will inevitably lead to.

#WelcomeWithDignity has previously provided four key policy solutions that would accomplish the Biden administration’s goals without closing U.S. borders to people in need: 

  1. Restore access to asylum at our nation’s border. 
    Congress needs to 1.) Properly staff ports of entry along the U.S. border to efficiently and safely process people seeking safety; and the Biden administration must 2.) Immediately increase the number of CBP One asylum appointments available and expand the program to all ports. 
  2. Support existing and launch new systems to receive and integrate people seeking asylum.
    The White House should establish a centralized office that works with agencies, states, localities, and nonprofits to coordinate and fund humane reception and integration of people seeking asylum. 
  3. Create a more effective and timely asylum system. 
    The Biden administration and Congress need to prioritize funding more asylum court staff, interpreters, asylum judges and officers. Work permit applications also need to be more accessible, with shorter processing times to allow migrants and their families to become independent sooner. These recommendations are directly in line with what the public wants as well.  
  4. Strengthen refugee resettlement programs and other pathways to the United States.
    The U.S. government must continue to invest in current and new overseas and domestic refugee programs, allowing people with approved cases to travel to the U.S. safely and reunite swiftly with loved ones already here. These programs should complement – never replace – robust asylum access at the southern border. 

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“This action does not fix the problem and betrays American values,” said Melina Roche,  #WelcomeWithDignity campaign manager. “It is just another step on a slippery slope toward the Trump-era Muslim and African asylum bans. Our policy solutions are achievable, actionable and evidence-based. They are based on what we and our 120-plus members working on the ground know to be true: Humane expansions of our asylum systems work. We call upon the Biden administration to reverse this disastrous executive action immediately, and instead work toward expanding access to asylum for people who are forced to flee dangerous conditions. In a moment of great global displacements caused by wars and socio-political turmoil, the U.S. must stay true to its values.” 

“Biden’s executive order is yet another step toward eliminating access to asylum at the border, violating U.S. law and putting protection-seeking migrants at risk in Mexico or in their home countries,” said Maureen Meyer, Vice-President for Programs at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). “Seeking asylum is a right in U.S. and international law. It should not be limited based on the number of migrants reaching the border, or the willingness of Mexico to accept expelled asylum-seeking migrants.”

“The inhumane policies in President Biden’s executive order use people’s lives as political tokens,” said Thomas Cartwright, advocate for Witness at the Border. “It is not just unconscionable from a humanitarian perspective. These policies will make the situation at the border worse, not better, which is obvious to all of us who work there. They will not serve their political purpose, but instead will serve to enrich organized crime in Mexico by opening even more opportunities for violent extortion–and worse–at the expense of those fleeing to the U.S. for protection. These policies will lead to unimaginable abuse of migrants returned to Mexico and those forced to wait in Mexico. It is a disheartening day to see President Biden double back on his promise of ‘restoring the soul of this country’ in an effort to appease, support, and reinforce anti-immigrant forces and sentiment.” 

“Asylum is not about arbitrary justice – one day you are in and the next day you are not. It is about giving the most vulnerable people in the world the opportunity to thrive instead of perish,” said Margaret Cargioli, Directing Attorney Policy and Advocacy, Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef). “Deterrence policies do not work in a world where war, discrimination, environmental disasters, and persecution based on someone’s political opinion, sexual identity, or gender are rampant, forcing people to seek safety in other countries. People risk their lives and the lives of their children migrating when they have no other choice. Sensible immigration policies focus on how to integrate migrants who had no other choice than to make a treacherous journey to the U.S. southern border into our communities. Pregnant mothers, LGBTQ+ individuals, families, men, and their loved ones will suffer for generations due to a short-sighted political strategy by an administration that had promised to restore asylum.” 

“This is disgraceful,” said Laura St. John, Legal Director at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “President Biden promised on the campaign trail to restore humanity to our immigration system, and instead he is choosing to slam shut the door to safety to those who need protection most. Like previous expulsion policies, this will result in families being separated and put the lives of people seeking asylum in grave danger. Enacting an on-off expulsion policy like this will do nothing to address the significant challenges we face at the border. Generally, deterrence policies do not work because people seeking asylum don’t have any other options, but this so-called solution will be particularly ineffective because the status of asylum processing at the border will change with little to no notice. It’s absurd to bar access to asylum simply because an arbitrary number of people are seeking protection. People who need protection need protection, regardless of how many other people are seeking asylum at the same time.”  

“President Biden’s executive order is a profound disappointment and a stark betrayal of the compassionate, life-affirming immigration solutions he promised in 2020,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director, National Partnership for New Americans. “By embracing right-wing strategies, the administration is turning its back on the American electorate’s clear desire for inclusive policies that provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. Instead of performative band-aid ‘solutions’ that will hurt our communities and economy in the long run, we need real solutions that address the root causes of migration, honor our nation’s commitment to provide refuge to those in need of safety, and uphold the dignity and rights of all individuals and families. We urge President Biden to reverse course, and we call on our members of Congress to reject these misguided approaches and instead implement humane, effective immigration policies that reflect our nation’s values of welcome, fairness, security, and promoting lives of dignity.” 

“We call for a reimagining of our asylum policies in light of President Biden’s executive order, which we believe undermines our core values and makes the journey for asylum-seekers unnecessarily difficult,” said Kristyn Peck, CEO, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA). “This order, which expedites the removal of individuals deemed potentially ineligible before they’ve had a fair chance for an asylum interview, or were too far behind in line, repeats the mistakes of the past, such as the 2017 Muslim Ban. We urge the administration to lead with innovative solutions that embody the spirit of our nation of welcome to protect access to asylum and create a more efficient system.”

“This executive order does not solve our highly flawed immigration system,” said Rev. Michael Neuroth, director of the United Church of Christ Office of Public Policy & Advocacy. “Instead, it introduces operational nightmares, confusion, and is in potential violation of the internationally protected right to claim asylum. It is also a fundamental violation of our faith. Jesus was a migrant who survived a massacre by fleeing to a safer land. Two thousand years later, we must remember that Jesus’ life and ministry calls us to see the presence of God in all people, including migrants. Our faith, founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, a stateless refugee, tells us that when we shut out the stranger, all of us suffer. Today, I pray for our nation in the face of this decision, and specifically for the many asylum seekers who will suffer due to this policy.”

“Maryknoll missioners are on the U.S. southern border welcoming and assisting asylum-seekers in their pursuit for safety and a life with dignity,” said Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “We firmly believe that President Biden’s order does not live up to the United States’ values and legal obligations to people seeking asylum. The return of those seeking asylum to a place where their life or freedom is threatened is not only inhumane, but also violates our country’s legal obligations under the Refugee Convention. We strongly urge the President to reverse the Presidential Proclamation and adopt solutions that uphold human life and dignity and benefit the common good, in particular by expanding access to legal immigration pathways and parole.”

“T’ruah is deeply disappointed in the Biden administration’s decision to further gut access to asylum, which the U.S. has a moral and legal responsibility to offer,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “For American Jews, many of our families came to the U.S. searching for safety here. Many of our relatives were also turned away after this country closed its doors in 1924 and perished in the Holocaust. We know that immigration policy can be a matter of life or death for those who seek asylum. We will be loud in our insistence that every person is a creation in the image of the Divine, and that every person deserves safety and dignity. We won’t let up until there is a just and transparent system for asylum seekers to gain legal entry into the United States.” 

“We are deeply disheartened by President Biden’s executive order that will only perpetuate our broken asylum system,” said Barbara Weinstein, director of the Reform Jewish Movement’s Commission on Social Action. “Halting access to asylum in any circumstance is unjust and inhumane. Time and again, the Jewish people have experienced the consequences of harsh policies and indifference to the suffering of those experiencing persecution and violence. It is this history that inspires us to strongly urge the Biden administration to cancel all plans to further gut our asylum system and, instead, champion solutions to create a humane asylum system for all those who seek refuge.”

“The Biden administration’s actions are a real step backward in our nation’s commitment to human rights and asylum protections, as well as a humane and orderly process at the border,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute. “Political considerations cannot override the moral imperative to offer protection to those fleeing persecution and violence. Instead, we can choose to lead with compassion, justice and respect for human dignity.”

“Lutherans champion compassion and fairness in our nation’s migration policies. Today, we are dismayed to see this complex issue reduced to simplistic solutions,” said Rev. Amy Reumann, director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Witness in Society, “What the president is proposing jeopardizes access to international protection, through an arbitrary decision to return certain asylum seekers to where they could suffer irreparable harm. People of faith worldwide empathize with the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, embodying God’s call to love and welcome the stranger. Given our own history as an immigrant church, we stand against border enforcement that opposes the human dignity of those reaching our borders.”

“It seems this administration will find any tiny corner of opportunity that remains for asylum seekers to exercise their rights and tighten the screws,” said Casey Carter Swegman, director of public policy at the Tahirih Justice Center.  “Deterrence-based policies like these do not stop people from trying to seek safety, they just make it that much more dangerous to do so, with a disproportionate impact on survivors, particularly survivors of color. In practical terms, this new order will result in people desperately stacked up along the border. Some will try to wait and ‘follow the rules’ while those most desperate, left with no other choice, will take riskier and riskier routes into the U.S. This administration must stop playing politics with immigrant lives and face our broken system head on with the policies, funding, and staffing needed to serve all of our interests and protect the rights of those seeking safety from persecution.”

“President Biden’s executive order is another disappointing step back from our decades-long tradition of providing asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries,” said Pablo DeJesús, executive director of Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice. “Seeking asylum is a right enshrined in U.S. and international law and should not be limited based on the number of immigrants reaching the border in a specific period. Instead, Unitarian Universalists call on the Biden administration to expand the capability of the U.S. to welcome people truly in need of asylum. As a man of faith, we ask the President to Side With Love. We ask him to turn away from policies of indifference. We pray for his heart to crack open in compassion and his mind to heed the plight of the less fortunate, especially those fleeing violence and persecution. We urge him to place welcome at the center of our treatment of immigrants and asylees.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the administration has moved to pushing through inhumane border policies,” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “All our policies must center on the dignity of human beings. These proposed policies would add to the suffering of people seeking safety and the communities who welcome them. It is a moral tragedy that immigrants are being used to score political points. We urge President Biden to reverse course and instead work to build a more welcoming and inclusive immigration system, one that would make our immigrant forbearers proud.”

“With today’s announcement, Biden has betrayed his campaign promises to make the immigration system more just,” said National Immigration Project supervising attorney Victoria Neilson. “We saw under Title 42 that it is not possible to ‘close the border,’ and efforts to do so lead to more crossings in more dangerous locations. This rule is misguided political theater. By mimicking the worst of Trump’s policies, Biden is alienating his base to appease voters who will never be satisfied. We urge the administration to rescind this unlawful and discriminatory policy.”

“People who live in fear of violence and persecution flee their homes and all they know because they must, not because they want to,” said Melanie Nezer, vice president of advocacy and external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Chipping away at the legal right to seek asylum is a lose-lose strategy. It puts migrants who are fleeing persecution in danger and does not make the U.S. any safer or our border secure. We have seen first-hand the suffering and harm these kinds of policies create. We urge the administration to work on solutions that we know work.” 

“These new executive actions further shut the door on vulnerable people fleeing persecution and seeking safety in the United States,” said Cindy Woods, national policy counsel with Americans for Immigrant Justice. “It is unjust, inhumane, and contrary to the ideals upon which our country was built. As the administration continues to introduce policies aimed at punitively and arbitrarily denying access to asylum to score political points, real people—parents, children, friends—who fled their homes and risked their lives to try and survive are being treated as expendable political pawns. This Administration must reverse course. Instead of gutting our asylum system, it can and should reinvest in humane and orderly processing.” 

“In introducing this policy, the President is clearly responding to the political climate, rather than proposing solutions to address the actual challenges of today,” said Mark Hetfield, president and CEO at HIAS. “Rather than fixing an antiquated immigration system that has been broken for decades, politicians are using anti-immigrant rhetoric to gain votes by stoking fear. And increasingly, President Biden’s actions are implementing this anti-asylum rhetoric, rather than pushing for real solutions that are true to our values as a nation where immigrants and refugees have played such an important role.” 

“President Biden came into office with the promise to ‘restore the soul’ of America as a safe haven for refugees fleeing persecution,” said Melissa Crow, Director of Litigation at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “His administration has instead repeatedly adopted policies that undermine the fundamental right to seek asylum, placing vulnerable people in harm’s way. The executive actions announced today will eviscerate access to protection, making a mockery of our government’s legal and moral obligations to people seeking safety and leaving a lasting stain on this administration’s legacy. In a disgraceful attempt to appear ‘tough’ on immigration and score political points, the president is treating refugees’ lives as disposable. These are tried-and-failed measures that we know will only bring more chaos, more suffering, and more deaths at our border. We implore the administration to reverse course.”

“The administration is layering on ineffective policy after ineffective policy,” said Naomi Steinberg, vice president of U.S. Policy and Advocacy at HIAS. “Shutting down the border to people seeking safety was the wrong choice during the previous administration and it will be just as wrong now.  This will benefit smugglers and traffickers, decrease security at the border, and do nothing to achieve the goal of a fair and functioning asylum process.”

“Today’s decision clearly illustrates that this administration has not learned the lessons of the failed deterrents put in place by its predecessors,” said Marisa Limón Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and New Mexico. “Being strong on immigration doesn’t require an assault on asylum or cruelty toward people seeking protection at our southern border. The Biden administration doesn’t need to rely on harsh deterrence tactics like Trump’s failed Muslim travel ban and Latino Ban, which were also created to close the doors on refugees and send families back to the violent conditions they fought to escape. Las Americas stands in complete opposition to any measure that keeps vulnerable people in precarity at our borders. Instead of this cruelty, our country needs policies rooted in a more person-centered response at the southern border. We stand ready to contribute our insights and suggestions toward those real solutions.”

“These changes are not just policy shifts; they are life-threatening alterations to a system meant to offer refuge to individuals at their most desperate moments,” said Priscilla Orta, director of Project Corazon at Lawyers for Good Government. “The Biden administration is repeating the same inhumane tactics that defined the Trump administration’s assault on human rights. Closing the border based on arbitrary numbers, without any individualized review, is an unjust betrayal of the promises made by President Biden to uphold human dignity and the right to asylum.”

“President Biden’s latest attack on asylum seekers is extremist, deadly and wholly illogical on a policy level,” said Lisa Parisio, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project’s policy director. “We know, without question, that effectively shutting down the border and denying people their right to seek asylum under U.S. law does not stop them from needing or seeking safety and security. It only forces them to take more dangerous and deadly journeys to reach U.S. soil or leaves them trapped in harm’s way while stranded in Mexico, waiting for a chance to exercise their rights. ILAP calls on the administration to immediately reverse course, to pursue policies that respect and protect the lives of asylum seekers, and to focus resources on processes that uphold peoples’ legal rights and human dignity.” 

“We are alarmed that President Biden continues to double down on failed Trump-era policies that roll back long-standing protections for people seeking protection in the United States. Any presidential action that seeks to block access to asylum at the border is unlawful, immoral, and will ultimately prove futile,” said Monika Y. Langarica, senior staff attorney at the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA Law. “Extensive evidence has shown that restrictive policies do not stop people fleeing persecution from seeking refuge, but they do endanger lives and contravene our legal and moral obligations. The administration’s treatment of Ukrainian refugees has shown that we can provide access to safety and justice for the most vulnerable. We call on President Biden to abandon this political theater and reorient his administration towards his campaign promise to protect asylum.”

“President Biden is engaging in disgraceful political theater as he once again adopts President Trump’s most egregious immigration policies as his own,” said Hannah Flamm, policy counsel at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “Whether viewed through the lens of the law, politics or public opinion, today’s stunt is wrong and remarkably shortsighted. President Biden is reinforcing the harmful right-wing lie that the border has been ‘open’ and there is such a thing as lawfully ‘closing’ it. These actions make a mockery of U.S. and international law and further distances U.S. immigration policy from humane, workable solutions. Most importantly, these theatrics will have real and calamitous repercussions for IRAP’s clients and numerous others seeking safety. IRAP implores the Biden administration to abandon its morally bankrupt, politically misguided and unlawful border strategy during the presidential campaign. Instead, President Biden should demonstrate the necessary leadership to reframe the border as a manageable, humanitarian situation and dedicate the resources to make it so.

Here in the Arizona/Sonora border I have witnessed the harm suffered by asylum seekers who are unable to get through the border because of restrictive asylum policies,” said Alba Jaramillo, co-executive director of Immigration Law and Justice Network. “I have met asylum seekers who have died, who have disappeared and who have been kidnapped while waiting for the opportunity to enter the United States. President Biden’s executive order to shut down the border when daily encounters hit a specific threshold, is a policy that will result in further death and harm to asylum seekers at the border who are in dire need of safety. Migrant lives deserve protection.” 

“Biden’s executive order is a clear violation of both federal and international law protecting the rights of refugees to seek safety at our borders,” said Erika Pinheiro, executive director of Al Otro Lado. “Similar policies enacted by Trump demonstrated that this order will fail to deter asylum seekers; rather, it will only cause suffering and death, as legitimate refugees will be unable to access protection. Despite claims that this order will ‘shut down the border,’ it could take weeks or months for the Department of Homeland Security to effectuate some removals, which could overwhelm Border Patrol’s capacity and lead to further chaos. In 2020, Biden campaigned on a promise to rebuild the US asylum system and enact more humane immigration policies, but instead has dehumanized and criminalized migrants in an attempt to score political points. It is unlikely that this move will help Biden gain additional votes; instead, it will only further alienate his base and incite violence against immigrant communities. When we talk about the border, we can’t forget that policies that restrict access to asylum affect vulnerable people and can cost them their lives.”

“The Biden Administration’s new border policy is purely political and unjust,” said Samantha Ruvalcaba, communications coordinator at the National Immigrant Justice Center. The administration is turning its back on refugees and migrants at a time where their security and safety is needed the most. NIJC will not stand by while Biden unrolls this new policy that contravenes U.S. and international law. We call on the administration to end the anti-immigrant policies it once vowed to discontinue.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the Biden Administration’s continued efforts to further restrict access to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Kelly Ryan, president of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.  “The United States has long been the world leader in offering safe haven to refugees who have suffered or fear persecution. U.S. law recognizes the right to seek asylum. Instead of slamming the door to those in need of protection, we urge the Biden Administration to reform its asylum system and partner with Mexico and Central American countries to continue to strengthen their asylum systems and to expand opportunities for legal immigration pathways that allow refugees and migrants to flourish in the region in a safe manner that affirms their dignity.” 

“President Biden’s new executive order will endanger lives and embolden anti-immigrant sentiments,” said Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, president of Sojourners. “Policies based around deterrence only encourage more migrant people to attempt more dangerous crossings or rely on human traffickers. By some estimates, deterrence-based immigration policies have contributed to the deaths of at least 10,000 migrant people over the last three decades. As Christians, we call for policies that recognize the human dignity of every person and don’t aggravate the dangers people face. This executive order violates U.S. law and international agreements and fails to meet President Biden’s campaign promises. Solutions like increasing the number of asylum officers, restoring asylum processing at points of entry and expanding access of CBP One to all ports of entry can help the U.S. to welcome people with dignity while keeping our communities safe.”

“As a faith based organization, CWS believes in welcoming asylum seekers and recognizes the human right to claim asylum embedded in our legal system,said Rev. Noel Andersen, national field director for CWS. “It is a moral outrage to pass policies that eviscerate our asylum system and block people fleeing for their lives from seeking safety. Asylum seekers and migrants seeking safety are not political pawns. We expect President Biden to live up to his campaign commitments to restore asylum and humanitarian values at the U.S.- Mexico border. Additional enforcement measures and criminalization of migrants will only perpetuate the issues we face, instead we should increase capacity and welcome infrastructure to assist people through the legal and integration process.”

“Playing politics with the lives of people seeking asylum is just wrong,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “Turning away people fleeing persecution and repression is the opposite of U.S. leadership. This policy will endanger lives, fuel anti-immigrant fear-mongering, and set a terrible example for countries around the world that host the vast majority of the world’s refugees. Not only does this policy trample on U.S. refugee law and treaties, it will be ineffective and inhumane. Under both the Trump and Biden administrations, we have seen again and again how policies that attempt to override U.S. asylum laws simply cause more disorder, dysfunction and damage to people seeking protection. The best path forward is always the one that upholds values and human rights.”  

“It’s incredibly disappointing that this administration made this decision without a clear understanding of the true risk and suffering on the ground in addition to the operational impact of this policy,” said Kate Clark, Esq., senior director of immigration services at Jewish Family Service of San Diego. “In the recent past, the San Diego Sector has processed the highest number of people seeking asylum in the nation at our border crossing, and we assist many of them at the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services before they are reunited with their loved ones across the country. We know from experience that punitive actions like this executive order will do nothing to solve the humanitarian challenges at our borders. We need all levels of government to come together to aid and increase safe pathways for people fleeing violence and persecution and in the immediate future increase numbers being processed through ports of entry.”

“President Biden’s craven embrace of failed Republican policies is a mistake that will only lead to more harm and dysfunction at the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund. “There is a better way. Rather than playing politics with people’s lives, the President should pursue practical solutions that increase our capacity to welcome immigrants humanely. These solutions include timely and fair processing of asylum applications, expanding legal pathways, and supporting cities that are welcoming our new neighbors.”

“Closing the border to people seeking safety is immoral, counterproductive, and a violation of international law,” said Amy Gottlieb, U.S. migration director for the American Friends Service Committee. “What we need is to create a fair and welcoming immigration system that processes immigration claims quickly, connects people to supportive services, and provides avenues for residency and citizenship. Instead, President Biden is doubling down on Trump’s cruel and ineffective efforts to punish migrants for failures of U.S. policy.” 

 “History is repeating itself. Today’s announcement comes 85 years after the United States turned away the MS St. Louis, a ship of Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust and forcing its return to Europe,” said Shaina Aber, executive director of the Acacia Center for Justice. “Now, President Biden has chosen to repeat this grave injustice, imposing arbitrary quotas to turn back people fleeing violence and persecution at our border. It is heartbreaking that President Biden is doubling down on the same failed policies championed by those who consistently want to play politics and stoke xenophobia at the expense of people’s lives. Shutting down the border does nothing to address the root causes of forced migration, nor will it uphold the rights and dignity of people seeking safety at our border. Our partners along the border and in the communities welcoming our new neighbors remind us every day that they are not overwhelmed by people seeking safety; they are overwhelmed by the lack of political will to implement real solutions that would create an immigration system that upholds the values many Americans hold dear—a balanced approach that is fair, protects due process, upholds our ideals and treaty obligations, and protects the dignity and lives of people seeking asylum. It is not illegal to seek asylum. It is a human right.”

“President Biden’s recent executive order is a devastating advancement in the ongoing erosion of asylum access at our nation’s borders,” said Tess Hellgren, director of Legal Advocacy at Innovation Law Lab. “This order is not a solution to the profound imperfections of our immigration system; instead, it places individuals – who may have traversed thousands of miles fleeing persecution and violence – at risk of being sent back to the very dangers they fled, all without a legitimate chance to pursue the protection they seek under the lawful processes they deserve.”

“CARECEN SF is heartbroken to see that The Biden-Harris Administration’s recent border policy proclamation aims to further restrict asylum eligibility,” said Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, executive director of the Central American Resource Center of Northern California – CARECEN SF. “Adding to the harm is the fact that it comes on the heels of the already detrimental asylum ban. Asylum is an essential lifeline for people fleeing harm in Central America and around the world. We owe it to the tired, hurt, and traumatized survivors to end the attack on asylum. This proclamation is a morally repugnant political move, offering no actual operational benefit at the border. If the goal is truly to increase border security, then invest in a common sense, trauma-informed policy that does not change every few months, where people seeking asylum are afforded legal counsel, listened to, and given protection when they meet the refugee definition. Anyone involved in the day-to-day work of asylum and border policy knows that this proclamation is harmful, and will confuse those tasked with carrying it out as well as those caught in its snare. We are disappointed, and call on the Biden-Harris Administration to heed what the majority of Americans want – a functioning asylum system.” 

“Refusing to provide asylum access to individuals and families fleeing harm is cruel, violates domestic and international law, and runs contrary to this country’s fundamental value of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution,” said Sarah M. Rich, senior supervising attorney, and interim senior policy counsel at the SPLC. “Over the past few days, we have seen the Biden administration adopt many of the same anti-immigrant measures that we denounced under the Trump administration. In fact, this proclamation relies on the same statutory provision that the Trump administration relied upon to issue its infamous Muslim Ban in 2017. While our immigration system needs modernizing, barring people from seeking safety in our country flies in the face of our nation’s values and our democratic principles. We reiterate our call for the Biden administration to reject these Trump-era policies and instead implement a humane immigration system.” 

“Tilting right to appease those who have remained steadfast opponents of any migration to the United States is wrong,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). “We have been and should remain the beacon of hope for those seeking protection for themselves and their families. These policies increase the suffering of many who seek lifesaving protection and the harm that will result from the implementation of this executive order for many is irreversible. The border restrictions proposed in these policies will neither satisfy opponents of any reform to our nation’s outdated immigration laws nor will it truly address the situation at our border or the conditions that force migrants to leave their home countries.  Instead of further limiting access to asylum seekers, President Biden should be working to fulfill his pledge to ‘reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers’ and pushing Congress to pass significant legislation. Such legislation should include the bill to update the INA’s Registry, that would offer respite to millions of contributing migrants living in this country for decades without recognition. President Biden’s executive orders have yet to include any protection from deportation for millions who lack citizenship. It is truly a sad day for the United States when it has become so expedient to disregard the plight of human beings for political gain.  We will fight tooth and nail to stop this executive order from going into effect and to reverse all other anti-asylum policies already doing damage to the right to seek refuge.” 

“The action taken by President Biden to supposedly solve the border issue puts innocent people at risk and further fosters harm and violence at the southern border,” said Rev. Nathan Hosler, PhD, the director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy at the Church of the Brethren in Washington, DC. “As we just recently hosted our annual Christian Citizenship Seminar to equip our Brethren youth on how to advocate for just immigration policy and uphold human rights, this highlights our longstanding commitment as a denomination to welcome the stranger. However, instead of abiding by his promise to enact immigrant-friendly policies, President Biden gave in to the anti-asylum and disgraceful rhetoric against asylum seekers. With this response to our broken asylum system, the Administration will in fact not keep people who are forcibly fleeing their homes from seeking humanitarian assistance and asylum. In reality, this action of capping the amount of border crossing arbitrarily determines who is human and who is not and turns the southern border into a lottery with horrific implications for its participants. We therefore urge Joe Biden to immediately reverse this inhumane Executive Order to uphold human dignity and justice for all people seeking asylum at our border.”

“This order is immoral and cowardly. It is political tokenizing of the most vulnerable people. It is a betrayal of the promises made to the people of this nation”, said Katia Hansen, president & CEO of Unitarian Universalist Refugee & Immigrant Services & Education. “This order caters to bigoted misinformation about refugees and asylum seekers, and we unequivocally oppose it. President Biden is demonstrating that he does not want to partner with those of us bringing the best of American values to immigration and refugee work. His action shows that he does not understand the circumstances that force people to flee their homes seeking safety. Additionally, the arbitrary benchmarks in the order will make the law more confusing for everyone involved in the process. We need solutions that solve problems, not complicate the ones we currently have.” 

“More than 500 years have passed since the arrival of the first Europeans to these sacred lands of Turtle Island and this continent of Abiayala (the Americas), where many Indigenous Peoples already lived. Today, the U.S. government makes its own laws ignoring that their ancestors entered these lands without asylum, without visas, without the permission of those who were already on these lands,” said Nana Teresa of the Maya Mam Nation and founding board member of the International Mayan League. “Now the Original Peoples of these lands are forced back to lands where colonial governments, laws and systems violate their human rights. The modern laws and systems that exist today are directly against the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. But we must not forget that today; treaties, conventions, declarations also exist that safeguard and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including our right to migrate. We, like so many others, are being forced to flee war, natural disasters, persecution and criminalization. Our Peoples are searching for a place to live, for survival. But unfortunately, through this Executive Order, we are seeing an initiative of death. These policies do not have a sense of love of life or humanity, much less the love of Mother Earth.”

“America’s asylum system needs upgrading to adapt to historic levels of global displacement and address the humanitarian challenges host communities face,” said Hans Van de Weerd, IRC’s senior vice president for Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration. “Solutions we know to work are nowhere to be found in this executive action. Instead, it doubles down on deterrence policies that are ineffective, misguided, and deeply harmful to families and individuals seeking safety at the southern border. It sends a counterproductive message to other countries hosting people seeking safety that refugees can be turned away at will. People seeking asylum in this country significantly contribute to American communities, including economically. They fill essential jobs, start new businesses, and pay taxes. These contributions would also be endangered under this counterproductive policy and could lead to dramatic knock-on effects on local communities and economies. The Biden administration should harness the ongoing efforts of federal, state, and local entities, nongovernmental organizations, and community groups and coordinate a strategy that would provide a safe, humane, and orderly reception process. It should continue to work under existing law to expand safe pathways to protection that can alleviate pressure at the southern border. Congress also needs to do its part by supporting border and interior communities with robust funding for reception and for a fair and timely asylum process that meets current forced displacement realities.” 



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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: