Statement from Refugees International Director for the Americas and Europe Yael Schacher:
“Refugees International welcomes today’s California District Court decision that it is unlawful and arbitrary for the Biden administration to bar people from asylum eligibility if they enter between ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In his decision, the judge explained that ‘the availability of refugee admissions, parole, or work visas is irrelevant to the availability of asylum, which Congress considered to be independent of any particular means of entry.’ As Refugees International has argued, none of these other pathways are interchangeable with or can replace asylum.
The decision also affirms what Refugee International has seen on the ground and been told by asylum seekers who have faced harm in Guatemala and Mexico. Transit countries are unsafe for many U.S.-bound asylum seekers, and the United States cannot use third countries to shirk its own responsibility to protect people seeking asylum.
Further, this policy is not just unlawful but also ineffective and inhumane: Refugees International’s research with asylum seekers has shown that few understand the Biden administration’s new restriction, and so are subject to its ramifications but not deterred by them.
The judge granted a 14-day stay of the decision, meaning the administration will have that time—during which the existing restriction on asylum eligibility will remain in effect—to decide whether it will appeal.
Refugees International urges the Biden administration to stop defending this unlawful and inhumane policy, and instead invest in humanitarian reception and access to counsel for people seeking safety.”
To schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured Image: Asylum seekers subject to the Biden administration’s asylum ban wait to be picked up by the Border Patrol on May 26, 2023 after crossing into the United States near Yuma, AZ. Photo by Fernando “Fernie” Quiroz of the Arizona-California Humanitarian Coalition in Yuma.