White House-Congress Appropriations Deal Would Gut Asylum, Hurt U.S. Cities, and Undermine Border Management

Statement from Refugees International President Jeremy Konyndyk and Director for the Americas and Europe Yael Schacher:

“Harmful changes to the U.S. asylum and immigration system that the Biden administration is currently negotiating with members of Congress will hurt displaced people while doing nothing to improve the situation at the southern border and in cities nationally. This is a purely political exercise to create the appearance of action on immigration heading into an election year – not a viable plan to actually improve humane border management or support U.S.communities.

Three major policy changes that are reportedly on the table would betray promises by the Biden campaign and his administration to work with Congress to restore humanity and American values to the immigration system.

A raised credible fear standard for asylum applications and a safe transit country provision (akin to Trump’s so-called transit ban) are already part of a regulation enacted by Biden – and they are not deterring asylum seekers but are blocking access to protection for those with meritorious claims. Investing in a fair adjudication process and improving access to work for asylum seekers after arrival would have much more positive impact—and are what mayors of affected cities are asking for.

The third proposed change, expanding expedited removal nationwide, would increase challenges facing U.S. cities. In 2019, local officials and officials now serving in the Biden administration  warned that a similar expansion under the Trump administration would lead to racial profiling and violation of civil liberties. Expanding expedited removal would also lead to separation of families and sow fear among those immigrant workers the Biden administration has encouraged to come forward to report labor abuse.

Democrats should not “compromise” by endorsing discredited Trump era policies that would sow disorder at the border, return people seeking safety to danger, and incite mistrust and fear in U.S. communities.

It is shameful to legitimize the most anti-immigrant voices in exchange for foreign aid. Refugees International calls on White House and Congressional negotiators to stop using Republican opposition to this aid package as political cover to permanently gut critical asylum protections. Instead of validating failed Trump-era policies, Congress and the administration should focus on policies that would actually help.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Etant Dupain at edupain@refugeesinternational.org.

Featured Image: A mother embraces her daughter and husband after traveling for 20 days and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on May 20, 2022 in Yuma, Arizona. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.