Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2024

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#WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Condemns Fast Tracking Deportations

“Fast-tracking people back to danger is not a solution. We must work to optimize processes for people seeking asylum.”

Washington, DCThe #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign condemned a new plan that would fast-track deportations for recent migrants who arrive outside U.S. border checkpoints including those who turn themselves in to immigration authorities in order to seek asylum. These changes, like prior rocket-dockets, raise due process and access to counsel concerns. The plan is  part of a series of deeply disturbing steps the Biden administration has taken in recent months to attempt to deter people from  crossing the U.S.-Mexico border instead of working to better structure the process.

The fast-track deportation policy would require certain families and individuals arriving at the border to be processed through the asylum system first, instead of being added to the back of the line. It would expedite the already-fraught asylum hearing process for people who have just made a harrowing journey away from dangerous conditions in their home country. Like prior fast-track dockets, this new change risks  sending vulnerable people back to life-threatening situations without adequate due process.

#WelcomeWithDignity and its member organizations working on the ground in border communities and throughout the country are calling on the federal government to stop relying on ineffective deterrence-only solutions, and instead direct more resources to strengthening the asylum system.

The Campaign advocates for four simple, practical solutions that will help the U.S. government effectively and efficiently process those who come to our country seeking safety, including creating a more fair, effective, and timely asylum system to reduce backlogs, improve fairness, and increase efficiency. To learn more about #WelcomeWithDignity’s proposed policy solutions for the U.S. asylum system, please visit:

“Our immigration system requires smart, humane solutions, so families and individuals can seek asylum and access safety. Fast-tracking people back to danger is not a solution,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity campaign manager. “Deterrence is cruel and does not work. We must work to optimize processes for people seeking safety, not send them back to dangerous conditions. We implore the Biden administration to embrace intelligent, efficient ways to welcome. This is what the American public wants and will benefit our country as a whole.” 

“Accelerated dockets put speed before justice, with potentially deadly consequences for people seeking asylum,” said Blaine Bookey, legal director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Three years ago the government launched a fast-track docket for families seeking asylum, the vast majority of whom have been unable to find legal representation on such a short timeline. Nearly all have been ordered deported, with the majority of decisions issued in absentia – meaning the families never had their day in court. We intervened in a case on appeal and won the family a second chance to present their claim; had we not, they would have been deported to near certain death. Now, the administration is poised to compress the complex asylum process even more dramatically for some single adults seeking safety. The result will undoubtedly be more wrongful deportations of refugees to countries where they face grave harm. This short-sighted approach will also exacerbate the immigration court backlog, further delaying adjudications for immigrants and people seeking asylum around the country. Our government should instead invest in infrastructure to safely process people seeking asylum at the border and ensure adequate resources for community-based services to support families and adults throughout the legal process.”

“We urge the administration to center any policies in humane processes instead of these cruel deterrent tactics. They should invest in infrastructure that would allow safe and welcoming solutions,” said Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. “These fast-track deportations are violent and inhumane and can have deadly consequences for people seeking safety and protection. We unfortunately know all too well the danger that people have to flee and the desperate deadly conditions people have to endure at the border.”

“These piecemeal approaches, prioritizing hastiness, force asylum seekers to face undue barriers in obtaining representation due to a lack of time and resources. We must stop making policy by chasing the whims of public opinion and focus on approaches that serve the country’s interests and our humanitarian obligations in the long term,” said Zoe Bowman, Supervising Attorney at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and New Mexico. “This entails solutions that address the root causes, such as climate change, conflict, income inequality and discrimination, that push people to flee their homes and leave their families behind. And it means orderly, safe and dignified processing of asylum seekers upon arrival at the southern border, so they have what they need to live with dignity at their next destination.”

“This is not a new approach, and it remains both unsuccessful and inhumane. Accelerating certain types of case, without regard to their merit, for the vague purpose of “deterrence” is ineffective and throws further uncertainty into the ever-growing immigration court backlog, in which many people have been waiting for years to have their cases heard,” said Jordan Cunnings, Legal Director for Innovation Law Lab. “Additionally, despite the administration’s assurances to the contrary, the expedited process will drastically undermine the possibility of fair legal representation. We urge the Biden administration to reconsider.”

“The administration’s plan to fast-track deportations goes against our country’s values and President Biden’s own campaign promise to restore asylum. Above all, it will potentially put thousands of people seeking asylum in grave danger,” said Maribel Hernández Rivera, director of policy and government affairs, border and immigration at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We urge the Biden administration to meet the challenges at the border by championing solutions that will fix our broken immigration system. That includes investing in processing capacity at ports of entry, supporting cities receiving migrants, and creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and other longtime residents who contribute to our communities and our economy.”

“The Biden administration’s existing rocket docket results in too few families finding legal representation and too few being granted asylum,” said Kimiko Hirota, Policy Advisor for the Migrant Rights & Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Placing newly arrived individuals in rushed proceedings will similarly undermine access to counsel and lead to more wrongful deportations back to persecution and harm. We urge the administration to reverse course and instead invest in solutions that we know works and ensure an orderly and fair asylum system.”

“Attempts to fast-track immigration court dockets have, again and again, led to injustices, dysfunction and the exacerbation of backlogs,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “U.S. agencies should take steps to ensure people placed into this new docket have sufficient time to secure legal representation. The Biden administration and Congress should also work together to properly fund and staff the immigration courts so that they can adjudicate all cases in a timely and fair manner, while also resolving cases that have been stuck in the backlogs. Many people seeking asylum have been waiting years for their hearings, and may have to wait much longer if their cases are further delayed due to the new docket. These delays prolong family separations and leave many families without stable legal status.”  

“Accelerated court proceedings are antithetical to justice, especially for recently-arrived asylum seekers who need time to recover from an often dangerous, violent journey to the United States in addition to the persecution they fled in their countries of origin,” said Laurie Ball Cooper, U.S. Legal Director at the International Refugee Assistance (IRAP). “Asylum seekers need time to find a lawyer and other necessary services in order to present their claims in a high-stakes system. People seeking protection and subject to this docket have already passed a credible fear interview and therefore have shown a likelihood of qualifying for asylum. To then subject them to a rocket docket with limited hope of obtaining a lawyer and being able to adequately present their case is a cruel, anti-immigrant policy that will not deter people seeking safety from coming to the United States. We need real humane solutions at the border, not more policies designed to send people back to danger in the name of deterrence.”



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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: