FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2023
Biden Asylum Ban Traps People In Danger
WASHINGTON – It’s only been a week since the termination of Title 42 at the U.S./Mexico border, and the beginning of the Biden administration’s new asylum ban. Yet the harm is already bearing out on real people. Lawyers and volunteers at the U.S./Mexico border have harrowing examples of people who are being raped, forced to live in squalid conditions, and denied access to safety and protection because the administration has put so many hurdles in their paths.
Asylum experts answered questions from the media about what is happening on the ground, how the new policy is being implemented, and the human impact of Biden’s asylum ban in a roundtable today. Below are quotes from the speakers; watch a recording of the press webinar here.
“The only way I can describe the look on the faces of the people I serve when I explain the asylum ban to them is stricken,” said Chelsea Sachau, Managing Attorney of the Border Action Team at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “My clients have told me that it’s unfathomable to them that a country like the United States, one that is supposed to stand for protection of their rights, liberties, and safety, would demand that they can only seek asylum via an app or that they are expected to seek protection in countries where they’ve already suffered severe harm, including sexual assault, extortion, and kidnapping threats. The people I meet in Nogales have struggled in vain through every hurdle and barrier to safety that the U.S. has put in front of them, and now they’re trying to use the app, but it’s failing them every day. It’s like a lottery for life-saving protections. We must restore a robust, functional asylum system for those seeking protection in the United States.”
“The CBP One app is a farce. No one I spoke to last week in Matamoros or Reynosa was able to successfully make an appointment using the app,” said Bilal Askaryar, Interim Campaign Manager, #WelcomeWithDignity. “Title 42 ended and the sky didn’t fall, but one cruel reality was swapped with another for people seeking asylum. President Biden and his administration are paying lip service to their obligations to protect our asylum system, and when it comes to asylum, lip service costs lives.”
Priscilla Orta, Supervising Attorney with Project Corazon at Lawyers for Good Government said, “The Biden administration has recently highlighted a significant decrease in border crossings since the lifting of Title 42 and the implementation of new procedures. However, it is important to recognize that this situation is far from a ‘win’ for those seeking asylum. Despite having promised in both local and national meetings not to eliminate the ability for advocates and attorneys to directly present emergency cases at the port, the administration has gone against their word. This decision removes a crucial safety valve that was designed to protect the most vulnerable individuals, leaving asylum seekers exposed to the risks of rape, torture, and other forms of harm without consequence or relief. The decrease in border crossings should not be misconstrued as a victory, but rather as a concerning indication that more people are being left to suffer without access to the protection they desperately need.”
“After monitoring its first days, we are alarmed that the Biden asylum ban is endangering human lives, complicating already complex protection adjudications, and making it impossible for people seeking asylum to make informed decisions before approaching ports of entry,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “People seeking asylum are being blocked from ports of entry by U.S. failures to process many who are waiting, the highly limited number of CBP One appointments, and Mexican officers’ interventions that often prevent people from even approaching U.S. officers to request asylum. The Biden administration must rescind this dangerous asylum ban, uphold refugee law, end policies that punish people seeking asylum, and maximize access to asylum at ports of entry.”
“The result of President Biden’s asylum ban is a humanitarian and human rights crisis where people trying to exercise their human right to seek safety are left stranded in unimaginably cruel conditions,” said Amy Fischer, Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International USA. “People in Reynosa and Matamoros were trying their best to make appointments with the CBP One App, which is quite literally like playing the lottery for people’s lives. Seeking asylum is a human right and the Biden administration must immediately stop the cruelty and instead invest in systems of welcome that uphold the rights of people seeking safety.”
Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.
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: welcomewithdignity.org