CHN opposes President Biden’s proposed asylum ban
Editor’s note: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice new proposed rule affecting asylum-seekers (Asylum Ban) on Thursday, February 23, 2023:
Earlier this week, the Biden Administration proposed a rule that would ban many refugees from seeking asylum in the United States. Under this rule, most asylum seekers who cross into the United States between ports of entry or who present themselves at a port of entry without a previously-scheduled appointment will be considered ineligible for asylum, unless they previously sought and were denied protection in a country they traveled through to get to the United States.
CHN supports the longstanding U.S. commitment to welcoming refugees who are fleeing persecution and imminent danger as a reflection of our moral and national values. We therefore oppose the Biden Administration’s proposed rule to establish an asylum ban for certain refugees.
If implemented, the proposal would prevent refugees from obtaining asylum and quickly deport them without a chance to participate in asylum hearings, using expedited removal. By disqualifying asylum seekers based on their method of entry, the proposal would make it difficult for refugees to access asylum protection in the United States, except for those who have access to technology and can navigate the “CBPOne” app, which only offers limited appointments and is known for technical glitches. Requiring asylum seekers to use CBPOne to access asylum at ports of entry would force them to wait in danger and would be in violation of U.S. law.
The proposal would disproportionately affect marginalized groups while favoring white and wealthy immigrants who can afford visas and air travel. It is deeply concerning that one set of rules applies to people at the southern border, and another set of rules to those who arrive by plane. This issue should be viewed in the context of the U.S. and other developed countries’ visa policies, which steer people who could otherwise seek asylum via regular travel channels. Individuals who can acquire U.S. visas or enter the country without them are often from wealthier, whiter nations.
As an alliance of national organizations working together to promote public policies which address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations whose membership include civil rights, religious, labor, and professional organizations, service providers and those concerned with the well-being of children, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities, we are particularly concerned that the proposed asylum ban would favor people with more financial resources over refugees most desperately in need and would cause disproportionate harm to Black, brown, indigenous, and LGBTQ+ people. It is the wrong move, and federal courts have repeatedly struck down such bans for violating U.S. law. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has repeatedly denounced attempts to impose these types of bans.
It is worth noting that the Trump Administration’s unlawful asylum transit ban led to asylum denials and prolonged detention for many with bona fide claims, as well as family separations, permanent limbo, and the elimination of a pathway to citizenship for refugees who were barred from asylum and granted only the inadequate protection of withholding of removal. This is not a history we should repeat.
We join others to urge the Biden Administration to keep its promise to lift restrictions on asylum seekers traveling through other countries. The Biden administration must adjust course immediately and abandon the misguided pursuit of an asylum ban.
Join the Coalition on Human Needs and others in taking action online on this important issue. For more, see Human Rights First’s fact sheet and letter of opposition signed by nearly 300 groups.