Biden Administration ‘Putting Border Politics ahead of the Safety of Refugees’ With New Restrictions on Asylum

Statement from Refugees International President Jeremy Konyndyk:

“With its new rule formalizing sweeping restrictions on asylum access, the Biden administration is putting border politics ahead of the safety of refugees. This is a misguided response to the real challenges at the border. It is important to be clear: what is unprecedented in the current border situation is not the outright numbers, which are similar to past historic peaks. What is unique now is that with extensive turbulence in the hemisphere and around the world, the numbers of people who credibly need refuge are much higher. And more of those people are in turn seeking that refuge at the U.S. border, given the lack of other means of accessing it. The narrow and capricious nature of this rule will, for many of them, sever the link between legitimate fear of harm and access to the fundamental protection of asylum. 

This will have repercussions not just on the U.S. border; it will also erode global standards on refugee protection. At a time when refugees are being blocked from protection and refouled in numerous places around the world, this rule undermines U.S. global credibility as a leader on refugee protection. As Refugees International argued when this rule was first proposed, this amounts to a shameful departure from American values of welcoming people fleeing harm. It also runs directly contrary to President Biden’s repeated and vocal promises to undo his predecessor’s weakening of U.S. asylum protections.  

The administration argues, reasonably, that the current U.S. asylum system is not built to handle this situation. The U.S. asylum system does need modernization to enable it to reflect core American values in line with the scale of needs. But in the meantime, the U.S. reaction to unprecedented numbers of people needing refuge here should not be – must not be – simply changing policies to more easily deny them protection. Yet that will be the essential effect of this new policy.  

Refugees International again implores the administration to reconsider this approach.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Refugees International Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at

Featured Image: A man prays while hoping to be processed by U.S. border agents for asylum after crossing over from Mexico on May 09, 2023 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)