Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2024

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#WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Speaks Out on the One-Year Anniversary of Asylum Ban

“People are languishing in dangerous conditions because of this policy. This ban must end, and we need to maximize current pathways to asylum.” 

Washington, DCIn advance of tomorrow’s one-year anniversary of the Biden administration’s asylum ban that punishes people for seeking safety, the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is calling for an end to the ban,  and for the administration to instead maximize access to existing pathways for asylum. #WelcomeWithDignity, a nationwide network of 120-plus organizations working on actionable solutions to improve our country’s asylum system, strongly condemns the ban. The organization also expressed deep concern about a new proposed rule that would give CBP officers more power to deny entry to people seeking asylum, and about reports that the administration may implement even more draconian restrictions in the coming weeks. 

One year ago, the current ban was implemented as a replacement for Title 42. The Biden administration replaced one egregious immigration policy for another. The Department of Homeland Security’s “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule (the “asylum ban”) is structured to deny asylum, with highly limited exceptions, to non-Mexican people who cross into the United States between ports of entry, or arrive at ports of entry without first obtaining a CBP One appointment.

Additionally, it punishes people who did not first seek asylum in countries they passed through on the way to the U.S.-Mexico border. Anyone in violation of these rules is blocked from entering the U.S. for five years. 

#WelcomeWithDignity and its member organizations working on the ground in border communities are calling on the federal government to end this counterproductive and inhumane ban, and resist the pressure to instate further bans. In addition, there are many ways that existing pathways to access the U.S. asylum system can be strengthened and expanded, including increasing staffing at border ports of entry and expanding CBP One appointment availability, which would create more order and safety along the southern border.

Currently, CBP One appointments are only available at a limited number of ports of entry and the total number available has remained stagnant since June 2023. This “electronic metering” practice requires people seeking asylum to wait for months in dangerous conditions in Mexico. Some of the northern Mexico areas where people wait are identified as more high-risk than Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of State. Since the implementation of the asylum ban, there has been a 70% increase in targeting of migrants for horrific violence in certain areas. 

Families and individuals who have already endured traumatic journeys to flee their homes remain vulnerable to exploitation, theft, kidnapping, and murder at the hands of criminal actors and corrupt officials in these notoriously dangerous regions. 

When the Biden administration first proposed this ban, the public opposition was fierce, broad and diverse. Most Americans do not want people to suffer while waiting for an opportunity to enter the U.S., and according to a 2023 Fox News study, 73% believe that there should be more lawful pathways. 

To learn more about #WelcomeWithDignity’s proposed policy solutions for the U.S. asylum system, please visit:

“Our members have seen the immense human suffering that has resulted from this asylum ban over the past year,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity campaign manager. “The Biden administration can and must do better for the people who simply want to seek safety for themselves and their families in our country. Instead of embracing punitive, deterrence-only measures – including a potential new restriction on the number of people who can seek asylum at the border – our leaders must focus on solutions that expand access to safety at ports of entry. People are languishing in dangerous conditions because of this policy. This ban must end, and we need to maximize current pathways to asylum.” 

“The United States has a moral and legal obligation to protect all people who seek safety in our country,” said Amy Fischer, director for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA. “The Biden administration cannot continue down this path and must end the asylum ban once and for all and live up to our country’s promise as a welcoming nation for all.”

“One year ago, we welcomed the end of Title 42. We finally said goodbye to an inhumane policy that used a tragic, global pandemic as a pretext to block people fleeing violence and persecution from finding safety,” said Pedro De Velasco, Kino Border Initiative’s director of education and advocacy. “Many people believe that after the end of Title 42, an open border policy began. Nothing could be further from the truth. The asylum ban in effect today is not an inherited policy, but rather one the Biden administration initiated, reneging on its promises to restore access to asylum. Today, just like in the days of Title 42, we see individuals and families stranded in border cities, forced to wait months before being able to access safety for themselves and their loved ones. Today, just like in the days of Title 42, we see individuals and families who crossed to seek asylum being returned to Mexico after their asylum claims were summarily ignored. Today, just like a year ago, the right to seek asylum remains cruelly obstructed, leaving protection out of reach for many of the people who need it most.”

“The asylum ban has unlawfully limited access to asylum at the border and forced tens of thousands of people to wait months in dangerous Mexican border cities for an appointment to enter the country,” said Maureen Meyer, vice president for programs at the Washington Office on Latin America. “Rather than restoring access to asylum at the border, the Biden administration has sought to restrict it, and for what? The rule’s implementation brought no reduction in the number of people who have sought to cross the border without inspection and to turn themselves in to U.S. authorities. In fact, migration reached an all-time monthly record at the end of last year. The asylum ban is cruel, federal courts have already ruled against it, and it’s not even much of a deterrent. This is a poor substitute for an effective strategy.”

“Every day, mothers, fathers, children, and other newcomers seek safety and a better life for themselves and their families at our borders. They come despite the U.S. government’s discouragement of migrants seeking to enter the country through Mexico, whether by erecting walls or restricting asylum.  This ‘deterrence’ is not only cruel, it does not work, as decades of failed U.S. efforts prove,” said Marisa Limón Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and New Mexico. “From the people we serve every day, we know that policies like the asylum ban only drive individuals towards dangerous routes, often guided by criminals who exploit them. Now is the time to ensure people seeking asylum have a pathway to welcome, not dependent on CBPOne, but responsive to diverse populations in their time of need. To accomplish this, the Biden administration must end its heinous asylum ban immediately. We cannot continue copying and pasting failed policies and expect different results.”

“For almost three years, thousands of at-risk Afghans have rightfully sought asylum, fleeing desperate and uniquely repressive conditions in their native land,” said Arash Azizzada, co-director for Afghans For A Better Tomorrow. “The Biden administration’s cruel and Trump-like ban doubles down on failed policies and serves as yet another betrayal of Afghans and other vulnerable people fleeing awful conditions in search of safety and dignity.”

“The Asylum Ban reneges on our humanitarian and legal obligations to not return human beings to danger and creates barriers to safety from persecution,” said Margaret Cargioli, Immigrant Defenders Law Center directing attorney policy & advocacy. “We have met one too many children and families who suffered and continue to suffer while stranded in Mexico due to restrictive deterrence policies like the Asylum Ban. Deterrence policies are designed to fail vulnerable people seeking safety, and that is why the administration must end the Asylum Ban. It’s crucial for our government to create an asylum system that welcomes rather than harms and helps rather than hurts. The Biden administration should steer away from further limiting asylum and focus on expanding processing at ports of entry and alternate pathways to safety in the United States. The administration must end inhumane policies that obstruct access to the right to asylum rather than maintain policies that end lives.”

“Interviews with hundreds of asylum seekers over the last year make clear that the asylum ban strands children and adults seeking asylum in Mexico where they are targeted for horrific harm, punishes people for seeking protection, and leads to the return of refugees to persecution. The asylum ban and related restrictions spur irregular crossings and deny equal access to asylum to people facing the most dire risks,” said Christina Asencio, director of research and analysis, refugee protection with Human Rights First. “The Biden administration must end the asylum ban and policies that sow further disorder and result in irreparable harm.” 

“Over the past year, Biden’s Asylum Ban has endangered the lives of thousands of people who have come to our border seeking safety and has disproportionately impacted Indigenous and BIPOC asylum seekers,” said Victoria Neilson, supervising attorney at the National Immigration Project. “And now, the Administration has proposed a new rule that would only further erode our asylum system by giving CBP officers more power to deny entry to asylum seekers. We urge the Biden administration to reject cruel and failed Trump-like policies and live up to its promise to welcome people with dignity and respect.”

“One year ago, the Biden administration replaced one cruel and ineffective policy with another,” said Blaine Bookey, legal director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “The administration’s asylum ban has blocked vulnerable refugees from accessing protection, exacerbating chaos and dysfunction at the southern border. Our team has interviewed asylum seekers who, as a direct result of the ban, have been shut out of the asylum process and trapped in perilous conditions, where they have faced horrific violence. A federal judge has also found the ban to be unlawful. For the past year, we have implored the administration to end the ban and adopt practical and humane solutions to the humanitarian and operational challenges at our border. Instead, the administration is poised to implement more cruel and short-sighted measures to curtail the rights of people seeking safety. This is a shameful and misguided political maneuver that will only result in more human suffering. We urge President Biden to reverse course.”

“Since the implementation of the asylum ban, the United States has undermined U.S. and international law by arbitrarily restricting the right to seek asylum of countless individuals and families who are seeking safety and protection at our southern border,” said Cindy Woods, national policy counsel at Americans for Immigrant Justice. “Worse yet, the administration has sought to implement this ban in secrecy, by conducting rushed and inaccessible fear screenings in CBP custody and refusing to provide any public data on the number of families subject to the Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) program and the outcomes of those cases. As the deleterious impacts of the asylum ban continue to be brought to light, it’s time for the administration to correct course, end this ban, and provide remedy for those negatively impacted by the past year of its implementation. The time is always right to correct a wrong.”

“The Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule, better known as the ‘asylum ban’ has been in place for a year, and continues to put people in an impossible position of choosing whether to wait in life-threatening conditions in Mexico or risk being subject to the rule and eventually denied asylum.” said Vanessa Dojaquez-Torres, HIAS policy counsel. “HIAS continues to urge the Biden administration to withdraw the asylum ban. It has failed to reduce the number of individuals seeking safety in the U.S. and costs crucial resources as it further complicates asylum claims. We remain concerned by the myriad of ways that the asylum ban limits access to asylum.” 

“One year into the Biden administration’s asylum ban, the impact has been just as dire as advocates warned,” said Sunil Varghese, policy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “The ban has unjustly denied protection to people seeking safety in the United States and returned them to danger, while doing nothing to appease the anti-immigrant fear-mongers that drove the administration to adopt this policy in the first place. The only way to achieve an orderly and humane border is to expand legal pathways to safety and restore full access to a strengthened asylum system.”

“Since its inception, the asylum ban has illegally impeded the rights of people seeking safety while creating danger at the border and confusion for all asylum case processing throughout the nation,” said Michele Garnett McKenzie, deputy director at The Advocates for Human Rights. “The U.S. has a legal and moral obligation to uphold the right to seek asylum, and experts have continually identified safer, legal and more viable alternatives for the U.S. immigration system. Instead, the Biden administration has doubled-down on harsh, illegal and ineffective policies while too many in Congress use asylum seekers as political pawns rather than working to build safe, orderly and fair immigration policies in-line with international best practice.”

“Deterring people from migrating and punishing people for the simple act of relocating to seek safety is not only a failed approach, it puts people in danger and threatens our collective values,” said Stacy Suh, program director at Detention Watch Network. “Biden continues to double down on the Right’s racist and exclusionary agenda by furthering anti-immigrant policies. Everyone, including people seeking asylum, deserve the opportunity to seek safety, find work, and be reunited with loved ones in the U.S.”

“Anti-asylum policies that violate domestic and international asylum law will continue to result in tragedy,” said Juanita Cabrera Lopez (Maya Mam), executive director of the International Mayan League.Indigenous Peoples in particular face multiple human rights violations including widespread denial of their right to identify as an Indigenous person due to erroneous misclassification as Latino/Hispanic;  Indigenous language exclusion hindering due process rights; and increased expedited removal of Indigenous asylum seekers due to an inability to communicate in Spanish or English and prove credible fear. However, we are gravely concerned that the full scope of violations faced by Indigenous Peoples have not been well documented or acknowledged. We ask the Biden administration to do the right thing and take into consideration the many recommendations that are being provided by human rights and immigrant organizations and work directly with Indigenous Peoples.”  

“At the border, we know that weakening asylum standards puts only people in danger, pushes them right into Governor Abbott’s concertina wire and the deadly desert, and separates families,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute. “On the one-year anniversary of the Biden administration’s asylum ban, the administration and Congress would do well to focus on implementing solutions: honoring the law and process asylum claims in a fair, humane way and support communities welcoming those most in need.”

“A year ago, we spoke out about the Biden administration’s asylum ban – a decision that replaced one harmful policy with another, and here we are a year later, alarmed by the introduction of a new proposed rule that would cause yet more harm to asylum seekers, said Nili Sarit Yossinger, executive director of Refugee Congress. “Installing restrictive deterrence-based barriers is not a solution – it is a punishment. We strongly urge the Biden Administration to abandon these cruel strategies and focus on building more robust pathways for people in need of protection.”



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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: