Refugees International Appalled by New Biden Border Policies

Statement by Refugees International Director for the Americas and Europe Yael Schacher:

“Refugees International is appalled by President Biden’s invocation of executive authority to violate U.S. and international refugee law and turn away people seeking safety at the U.S. southern border after a numerical quota has been reached. The number of people crossing the border has no bearing on the claims of legitimate asylum seekers. However, they will now be shut out – ironically in the name of “freeing up the asylum system for those with legitimate claims.” 

Today’s policies will also not yield a better managed border. As the failed experiment with Title 42 showed, it will compound suffering and crime on the Mexican side of the border and waste valuable operational and legal resources to implement and defend. These are resources that would be better used coordinating reception and adjudicating claims to restore trust and fairness in the asylum system. Because of limits on returns and repatriations, the new policies will likely lead to increased detention of unauthorized crossers. Further, under the new policy, Border Patrol agents will summarily remove anyone they don’t think ‘manifests fear,’ which will lead to returns of vulnerable asylum seekers.

Like several other asylum policies implemented by the administration in the last year, including bars on eligibility and expedited screenings in border patrol custody, today’s announced policies – which the administration shockingly calls “common sense” – are reminiscent of asylum restrictions proposed by former President Trump and constitute a direct betrayal of values candidate Biden promised to uphold as president.

At a time of unprecedented displacement in the hemisphere and beyond, they also represent a shirking of responsibility by a country with capacity to receive many more people seeking safety and set a dangerous example to the world of scapegoating asylum seekers in hopes of political gain. The challenges at the border are real and require solutions that balance an orderly border with fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers. This approach will achieve neither.” 

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