Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 22, 2024

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#WelcomeWithDignity Denounces Reintroduction of Border Bill

“Policy changes are needed to strengthen the asylum system, not dismantle it. This deeply flawed piece of legislation promoting punitive deterrence policies isn’t a solution. We must do better.”

Washington, DCThe #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign denounces the reintroduction of the previously stalled border bill (S. 4361) which is slated for a vote in the U.S. Senate, highlighting the needlessly cruel measures it would codify into law. S. 4361 would dramatically slash asylum rights and processes, sending more people back to danger while consuming immense amounts of federal resources.

If signed into law, this bill would make it harder for vulnerable people to apply for asylum. It would allow families and individuals seeking asylum to be deported without a fair day in court, and under certain scenarios, deny them the legal right to seek asylum altogether.

Meanwhile, all of the most inhumane provisions of the previous border bill remain, most alarmingly the constitutionally questionable rule giving the president authority to shut down the border at will. Other components include arbitrarily complex standards for the “credible fear” interview and a quota that would allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to expel people without asylum screening if U.S. Customs & Border Protection reaches a certain number of encounters at the border. This would certainly be a violation of international law, as it sends families and individuals who would otherwise have a legal right to asylum straight back into dangerous conditions.

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign maintains that this bill is not the commonsense solution it is touted to be. It is full of extreme, poison pill policies that would essentially end access to asylum. Deterrence tactics will not and have never worked. Policies like this will fail to decrease the number of people arriving at the border and increase the suffering of people who are already fleeing violence and trauma. We urge Congress to reject this bill.

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

“Policy changes are needed to strengthen the asylum system, not dismantle it. This deeply flawed piece of legislation promoting punitive deterrence policies isn’t a solution,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity campaign manager. “This bill denies people their due process and violates international law. We must do better.” 

“Mere months ago, these same harmful proposals received support in Congress, in part, because they hinged on U.S. aid to Ukraine in their ongoing conflict with Russia. For them to receive support now, uncoupled from foreign assistance funding, goes beyond political horse trading, and towards callousness against the world’s most vulnerable,” said Danilo Zak, director of policy at Church World Service. “The United States has been historically viewed as a place of compassion for the displaced, a safe harbor for the persecuted. To cede ground to isolationists and xenophobes runs counter to our national spirit, and risks normalizing harsh, anti-asylum measures by moving back the goalposts in future debates over border and asylum policy.”

“We have been a nation and a people of welcoming and compassion and have stood as a beacon of hope to others in need for generations. However, the administration is now, once again, on the precipice of considering the most restrictive and punitive asylum regulations in generations,” said Thomas Cartwright in leadership of Witness at the Border. “Nothing in this bill will change the dynamics at the border, or the politics of the situation. However, these measures will, without question, place asylum seekers in even more treacherous danger, and some will surely die as a result. We urge President Biden to resist the temptation to secure a deal just to get a deal, especially one that is ineffective, dangerous and counter to the values of our nation. And, moreover, if rebuffed by vote, we would find it abhorrent, and a betrayal of his campaign promises to put in place an executive order invoking the worst parts of the Senate bill.”

“The American people do not want a band-aid approach to our broken immigration system; they remain overwhelmingly in favor of policies that both address an orderly border and also legalize and offer support for long-established and hard-working immigrants, such as Dreamers, TPS holders, and mixed-status family members and the spouses of U.S. citizens,” said Vanessa Cardenas, executive director of America’s Voice. “Our leaders should denounce extreme views and emphasize clear policies addressing public concerns. Our leaders must advocate for a broader and more popular vision that directly addresses the interests of the American people.”

“This border bill is a betrayal of our country’s commitment to welcome refugees,” said Kimiko Hirota, policy advisor for the Migrant Rights & Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “This bill would result in thousands of women, children, and families being turned away and sent back to danger and persecution without the chance to even seek asylum. It undermines our longstanding history of being a place where persecuted people can seek refuge. We urge senators to vote no on the motion to proceed on Senator Murphy’s border bill and instead pursue policies that would create a dignified and fair immigration system, like letting asylum seekers work and creating more safe legal pathways to migrate.”

“As a group rooted in Jewish values, teachings, and history, Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice, calls out in the strongest terms against the border bill currently being discussed,” says Alice Levine, a founder and member of the Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice. “Just as Jewish refugees trying to escape Nazi Europe were turned away by the U.S. and returned to their deaths in Europe, what the U.S. government is proposing now, allows those who face death in their home countries to not even have a chance to make a case for asylum in our country. The U.S. is capable of welcoming all with dignity and we need people willing and able to work and contribute to our society. The first time around this bill was attached to Ukraine funding and the border pieces were supposedly added to sweeten the deal. This time around there is no excuse for trying to pass this draconian bill on its own. After the Holocaust our people said ‘Never again!’  We say ‘Never again’ to anyone!”

“Instead of a real, workable solution to the challenges at our border, this legislation would bring about the most extreme anti-immigrant changes to U.S. law in a century,” said Amy Fischer, director of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA. “Seeking asylum is a human right under international law. Not only does this violate U.S. treaty obligations but also sets a dangerous international precedent with the first ever numerical cap on asylum. This is not the right answer to the challenges the United States faces at its borders. Human rights should not be sacrificed for political gamesmanship.”

“We are concerned the Senate leadership will reintroduce the border bill for a vote. If passed, this bill would constitute some of the harshest changes to U.S. asylum law in history and would worsen the humanitarian challenges at the Southern border,” said Daniel Berlin, policy director for Protection Pathways at the International Rescue Committee. “We can all agree that bipartisan congressional action is needed to address the challenges with the current asylum system; however, recycling demonstrably harmful policies like closing the border to asylum seekers is not a solution.”

“When will both political parties stop playing politics with immigrant lives and instead focus on real solutions to create a fair and efficient immigration system? Time and again we’ve seen that punitive deterrence policies, like those proposed in this bill, simply don’t work,” said Alvaro M. Huerta, director of litigation & advocacy at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef). “We know asylum seekers are fleeing danger and need protection. We know that people will use lawful pathways to enter the country when they’re available. And we know that immigrants contribute tremendously to the United States. Enough is enough. We strongly urge all lawmakers to vote ‘no’ on this shameful and ineffective anti-immigrant bill and invest instead in welcoming and meaningful solutions.”

“This failed border bill does not prioritize border security or safety; instead, it jeopardizes our bi-national communities, causing further death and suffering,” said Marisa Limon Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “We urge Senators to heed the voices of borderland communities and advocates and vote against this harmful bill. Instead, let’s focus on finding solutions that allow people to prosper in their home countries, migrate safely, and invest in communities across the country striving to do the work of welcome.”

“This anti-immigrant bill contains a wishlist of the most harmful policies pursued by the Trump administration and if enacted would constitute a drastic rollback of protections to people fleeing persecution,” said Robyn Barnard, senior director of Refugee Protection, Human Rights First. “Members of Congress should focus on real solutions to meet the needs of our communities, including by increasing access to our asylum system, not erecting more racist walls. We urge all Senators to reject this bill and all similar policies of punishment for people seeking asylum.” 

“Asylum is a fundamental part of U.S. law,” said Kelly Ryan, president of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “Streamlining and improving the U.S. asylum process can and should be made without recourse to narrowing eligibility. Congress should not give in to pressure to narrow access to asylum. We urge Congress to demand administrative improvements permitting the U.S. to implement a fair, effective, and efficient asylum system.” 

“This bill amounts to the most extreme anti-asylum legislation we have seen in decades,” said Blaine Bookey, legal director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “It would enact permanent measures that shut the door to vulnerable people fleeing persecution and torture, with deadly consequences. Any senator who espouses support for immigrant rights and human rights must vote no. We implore our leaders to stop playing politics with human lives, and instead pursue real solutions to the humanitarian and operational challenges at our border.”

“The United States must uphold its moral and legal obligations to protect those who come here fleeing persecution,” said Monika Y. Langarica, senior staff attorney at the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA Law. “Now is the time for President Biden and Congress to expand pathways for people seeking safety and stability in the United States, rather than double down on failed restrictions that endanger the lives of vulnerable people and further eviscerate the right to seek asylum at the border.”

“The Senate bill puts an arbitrary cap on asylum seeking and devotes resources to exclusions and rushed adjudications at a heightened standard at the border – policies that we know only push people seeking safety into harm’s way and play into the hands of criminal networks,” said Yael Schacher, director for the Americas and Europe at Refugees International. “Instead of political posturing, Congress should focus on putting forward an affirmative vision that upholds U.S. obligations to protect people fleeing persecution, supports communities receiving asylum seekers and the ability of asylum seekers to work, and provides a path to permanent residency to so many essential community members.”

“At a time when politicians like former President Trump are threatening mass deportations and other authoritarian crackdowns on immigration, it is imperative for policymakers to provide meaningful alternatives to this hateful rhetoric rather than adopt it as their own,” said Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “Americans want legal pathways and sustainable, humane solutions to the border – not more cruelty. While the bill is likely to fail, today’s vote will become the perilous starting point for future legislative debates.”

“The Senate re-introducing this extremely harmful and unworkable bill against immigrants for political theater is despicable,” said Ronnate Asirwatham, Director, Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “The Catholic tradition honors international law that provides human beings the right to seek asylum, and we believe countries have a moral responsibility to care for those seeking help at their borders. This dangerous bill will only lead to more human suffering, especially among Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.”

“We are dismayed that U.S. Senators are once again bringing this harmful bill forward for a vote,” said Laura St. John, Florence Project Legal Director. “As we said when it was being considered earlier this year, it is a disgrace to our country’s purported commitment to welcoming those who seek safety and protection. It would decimate asylum in the United States and cause immense human suffering, including by separating families and putting the lives of people seeking protection in grave danger. Additionally, the so-called solutions in the bill will not address the real challenges that we face at the border. Deterrence policies never work because people who come to the U.S. seeking safety are doing so precisely because they have no other options, and it is 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. It is well past time for policymakers to turn to serious solutions, including those proposed by this campaign, that center the humanity of migrants and focus on welcoming people with dignity and providing a fair process. We strongly urge all members of Congress to stand with immigrants and asylum seekers and vote against this devastating deal.”



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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: