With New Asylum Ban, Biden Administration Drastically Limits Asylum at U.S. Border

Please see below statement from Refugees International President Jeremy Konyndyk and Director for the Americas and Europe Yael Schacher:

“The Biden administration’s newly proposed entry and transit ban represents a shameful departure from American traditions of welcome and protection that this administration had promised to uphold. It violates the spirit and likely the letter of U.S. asylum law. It undermines protections for refugees under the UN Convention. And it risks conferring President Biden’s validation on a policy so extreme that it was rejected by the courts when President Trump attempted it. While the Biden administration has sought to differentiate this policy from President Trump and Stephen Miller’s attempt to implement a transit ban, the practical effect of both policies will be the same: the denial of asylum to many people who have a well-founded fear of persecution, putting them at direct risk of harm. 

To be clear: this proposed rule will drastically restrict access and eligibility for asylum at the U.S. southern border in ways that will endanger vulnerable people. Asylum seekers who have not tried to claim asylum elsewhere, who have made an irregular border crossing, or who have not used the CBP One app to make a border appointment will be presumed to be ineligible for asylum. This violates international refugee commitments: the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has confirmed that States may not ‘condition access to asylum procedures on regular entry’ under the Refugee Convention and Protocol. It also violates basic common sense: implementation of the CBP One app has been highly problematic, and it is far from ready to be the sole way a person can seek asylum at the border. 

It is reasonable to work to reduce the excessive demands on the legal pathway of asylum through other complementary legal pathways such as parole—but this proposed rule is an inhumane and wrongheaded way to do so. The Biden administration’s previous opening of parole pathways is laudable in its own right, but parole is also a narrow tool that is only available to particular nationalities, and to people who have access to passports and sponsors with resources in the United States. Expanded use of parole must not be used to justify undermining fundamental asylum protections that are obligatory under U.S and international law.  

Many pages of the proposed regulation are devoted to rationalizing limits on asylum that the administration formerly opposed. Candidate Biden campaigned against the kind of asylum crackdowns that he is now proposing to implement. This rule would be a stain on his legacy and would contribute to a further erosion of critically important global asylum protections. Refugees International urges the administration to reverse course on this misguided policy.”

Konyndyk and Schacher are available for interviews on the administration’s asylum ban. 

To schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at ssheffer@refugeesinternational.org.  

Cover Photo: Migrants walk along the U.S. border fence on September 22, 2022 in El Paso, Texas. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.