FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2023
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Leaders Speak Against Biden’s Latest Asylum Ban
“IF THE ADMIN GOES FORWARD, WE WILL SUE”
Listen to a recording of today’s press call (passcode 8LfhqQ+8)
WASHINGTON – Lawyers and asylum experts condemned the latest asylum ban proposed by the Biden administration in a Zoom webinar with reporters. Tomorrow, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition will hold a rally outside of the White House at noon EST in protest. Info/register to attend here.
Following are quotes from the webinar.
American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the challenge against the Trump asylum ban, said: “If the Biden administration goes through with its proposed asylum ban, we will sue, just as we successfully sued over the Trump asylum bans. The Biden administration’s cosmetic changes cannot legally save it.”
Gelernt pointed out the illegality of the rule and the fact that many of the so-called “transit” countries don’t have a functioning asylum system. Experts also question the way the Biden administration is defining success, based on repressing the number of asylum applications from people in need. Bilal Askaryar, the Interim Campaign Manager of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign for asylum rights, said: “that’s like a lifeguard celebrating the fact that he didn’t have to make any rescues today, because he let everyone drown.”
Guerline Jozef, Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, explained that the parole program the Biden administration is touting as an alternative is only open to an exclusive group of people, from four countries, and nowhere near a solution. “The fact is, those programs are being put in place as deterrents, to make sure that those fleeing extreme conditions don’t actually survive. They are a way to say ‘don’t come’ and if, by God, you make it through the Darien Gap and if, By God, you make it to the border, we will turn our backs on you.”
“This recycled Trump-era rule is a stick that’s going to be used against the majority of asylum seekers, while the supposed carrot is only available to a fortunate few,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “Not only is it a clear contradiction of U.S. law and international agreements, it violates President Biden’s own promises to restore asylum and revives the Trump administration’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach. We urge the Biden administration to reverse course before this misguided rule denies protection to those most in need of it.”
Immigration Equality’s Executive Director, Aaron C. Morris responded with strong condemnation of President Biden’s proposed rule. “The proposed rule is particularly damning to LGBTQ asylum seekers. It unreasonably requires queer refugees coming from the south to apply for asylum in another nation first. LGBTQ asylum seekers are disproportionately targeted for horrible abuse on their way to seek safety in the United States. They are regularly beaten, raped, and killed. Therefore, in most transit countries, it is not safe for queer people. Sexual orientation and gender identity are solidly protected human rights in US asylum law, and most LGBTQ asylum seekers have meritorious claims. This rule would strip them of their right to a day in court, and subject them to months or years of persecution,” he said.
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