Biden’s Asylum Ban: We Won’t Go Backward!

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Despite President Biden’s promises to restore the right to asylum after years of former President Trump’s attacks on asylum, the White House has put yet another obstacle to access asylum at the southern border. On February 21, 2023, the administration introduced a proposed rule: those who can’t prove they applied for and were denied access to asylum in a country through which they traveled will be barred from receiving asylum. The only exception is if they have made an appointment at a port of entry along the border using the new CBP One app. This policy unfairly limits access to asylum for people fleeing violence who traveled on dangerous journeys through other countries before trying to apply for asylum at the U.S. southern border.

We joined prominent advocates of asylum working together in the Welcome with Dignity Campaign in calling this transit ban as what it really is—an asylum ban. During the 30-day comment period (the time the administration agreed to receive comments on the proposed ban), we rallied with partners across the country sending out emails, tweets and videos, even standing in front of the White House to mobilize others to join us in speaking out. Members of Congress joined our outcry. Thanks to all of you who added your comments during this public comment period! The White House defends its new rule by saying that it is only temporary and will go hand-in-hand with the creation of additional legal pathways for asylum seekers and migrants to enter the United States. We know that for many migrants they seek safety in countries near their home country, unfortunately regional trends such as corruption, violence and insecurity don’t allow them to prosper. Often they may even be pushed out of the countries because of their nationality, race or sexual identity.

The administration touts the availability of the new CBP One App as a new tool for more organized migration. However, we learned from our partners who work near the border that the app leaves many problems unsolved. First, these asylum seekers must have access to a smartphone, electricity, internet, and read English, or Spanish or Kreyol. Those applying for asylum will need to be lucky enough to get through on the glitchy app that only has a certain number of appointments available. Even those who are able to navigate the app were initially still faced with racial discrimination, as upon the release of the app it was discovered that those with darker skin tones have trouble being recognized by this new technology. This issue has since been addressed but points to the larger trend of creating policies and methods without fully understanding how it will impact the most disproportionate groups. What forces Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, low-income, and disabled persons to migrate and their experience seeking safety is different and often more complicated than the general population.

In recent years we have seen democratic backsliding, internal armed conflicts, and natural disasters force people from around the world to seek safety at the U.S.- Mexico border. With your help we can let President Biden know that we don’t want an asylum ban. We know that access to asylum is a human right and that there are people across the globe looking for safety so we need to push the Biden Administration to do the right thing.

Restore access to asylum now!