At One Year, Asylum Ban Threatens Lives & Spurs Crossings

WASHINGTON – Following reports that the Biden administration is considering additional administrative actions to bar access to asylum at the border, Human Rights First released “Trapped, Preyed Upon, and Punished: One Year of the Biden Administration Asylum Ban,” which details the harms inflicted by the Biden administration’s asylum ban after a year of implementation.  

“The interviews with hundreds of asylum seekers makes clear that the asylum ban and related restrictions strands in danger children and adults seeking asylum, punishes people for seeking protection, leads to the return of refugees to persecution, spurs irregular crossings and denies equal access to asylum to people facing the most dire risks,” said Christina Asencio, Director of Research and Analysis of Refugee Protection with Human Rights First. “The Biden administration and Congress must not erect any more unjust barriers to asylum that will sow further disorder and result in irreparable harm.” 

The report calls on the administration to rescind the ban and lays out effective, humane, and legal solutions to challenges at the southwest border. As U.S. officials meet in Guatemala this week to discuss implementation of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, the report is especially timely.    

In its report, Human Rights First urges the Biden administration to reject policies that punish, bar, and block people seeking asylum contrary to core tenets of international refugee protection, and to instead advance effective, humane, and legal solutions. These include strengthening and expanding access to ports of entry, refugee resettlement, parole, regional protection, reception coordination, asylum adjudications, and prompt provision of work authorization.  

The report’s key findings include: 

  • The asylum ban and accompanying restrictions are ineffective and counterproductive to both effective migration policy and refugee protection. The vast majority of over 500 asylum seekers interviewed by Human Rights First were unaware of the ban or its consequences. 
  • Wait times for CBP One appointments have risen up to seven months while daily appointments across the border have remained stagnant at 1450 since June 2023. 
  • While waiting for CBP One appointments, people seeking asylum suffer from targeted, horrific harm in Mexico with a 70% increase in some areas. Human Rights First has tracked reports of over 2,500 survivors of kidnapping, torture, sexual assault, extortion and other violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants in Mexico while waiting to seek asylum since the ban took effect.
  • People with or waiting for CBP One appointments have been prevented from seeking asylum at U.S. ports of entry by the Mexican government’s increased targeting of migrants for arrest, detention, and forced transfers to southern Mexico, with reports of abusive treatment.
  • Black, Indigenous, LGBTQI+, HIV+, and other vulnerable people face particular dangers.  Equal access to asylum is denied to people who do not speak one of the three CBP One languages, including most African, Indigenous, and other people outside of the Americas. 
  • The asylum ban has led the United States to order refugees returned to persecution, including a Venezuelan man who fled political persecution and a Chinese pro-democracy dissident.

To speak with Christina Asencio, author of the report, or other experts at Human Rights First, please contact [email protected].


Published on May 7, 2024


Related Posts

Seeking asylum?

If you do not already have legal representation, cannot afford an attorney, and need help with a claim for asylum or other protection-based form of immigration status, we can help.