Advocates react to President Biden’s proposed asylum ban: ‘Our families deserve dignity and respect’ 


March 22, 2023

At a recent rally near the base of the Washington Monument, immigrant advocates gathered to demand that the Biden Administration back off its plans to institute an asylum ban for many applicants as well as a possible return to the practice of family detention, frequently used during the Trump era. 

Carrying signs that read “No Asylum Ban, No Family Detention” and “Biden: Detainer in Chief,” and flanked by teddy bears held in steel cages, advocates noted that Biden campaigned on a platform of expanding asylum opportunities and ending family detention. 

“We, and the many people who gathered at the Washington Monument and virtually today, shouldn’t have to hold his feet to the fire to ensure he doesn’t revive brutal policies he directly condemned,” said Naureen Shah, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU. “He knows exactly how much harm these policies will cause to children and families, if implemented.” 

Under Biden’s proposal, migrants who do not schedule an appointment at a U.S. border port of entry or use humanitarian programs available to certain nationalities would be ineligible for asylum except in certain cases. They must also first seek and be denied protection in countries they pass through to be able to claim asylum once in the United States. 

This proposal, which currently is undergoing a 30-day public comment period before being reviewed and then finalized, could result in tens of thousands of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from claiming asylum. 

The Coalition on Human Needs is co-sponsoring a comment campaign in opposition to Biden’s proposal; this is very appropriate for individuals wishing to submit brief comments in opposition. Already, more than 25,000 public comments have submitted. Important note: the deadline for submitting comments is this Monday, March 27. If your local, state, or national organization wants to submit a more detailed comment, you can find a template for organizational comments here. You will see places to insert information to describe your organization and/or your specific concerns about the impact of the asylum ban. In addition, Lawyers for Good Government has produced both a training video and helpful resource packet with stories, talking points, and specific examples to help you write your comment. 

At last week’s rally, Bilal Askaryar, Campaign Manager for #WelcomeWithDignity, said Biden is “moving to block the most vulnerable refugees from seeking asylum in the United States because they arrived on foot instead of on a plane. And now with the news that he is considering detaining refugee families as a deterrent measure, it’s clear he has given up on his promise to restore the soul of our nation.” 

Some advocates saw the impact of these policies as racist. 

“This Administration’s embrace of cruel and racist policies that aim to make the human right to seek asylum so difficult and painful that people choose not to exercise that right is an unacceptable turn from a President that once campaigned on restoring human rights to our immigration system,” said Amy Fischer, Amnesty International USA’s Americas Advocacy Director.  

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA, took particular exception to the provision in Biden’s proposal that “favors one community seeking refuge over another” because it provides rights to people arriving by plane and withholds them for people arriving on foot. 

“We all know very well that these types of restrictions are systematically designed to favor wealthy and white immigrants, and leave Black and Brown immigrants out of the asylum process,” he said. “Our families deserve dignity and respect.” 

asylum ban
family detentions
immigration reform