Human Rights First Raises Concerns Over Bipartisan Border Solutions Act
WASHINGTON — The Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, introduced yesterday by Senators John Cornyn (R- TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Tony Gonzales (R-TX), would undermine fair and accurate asylum decisions and create new detention facilities for asylum processing, according to Human Rights First.
“This bill is right out of the Trump administration’s playbook. It would lead to the immediate deportation of refugees seeking protection despite their legitimate fears of persecution,” said Jennifer Quigley, senior director for government affairs at Human Rights First. “The last thing our laws should do is turn U.S. asylum assessments into rapid deportation devices aimed at deterring people from seeking refuge. Instead, legislative action should be focused on building a fair, timely, and humane asylum system that welcomes people seeking refuge with dignity and preventing a future administration from rigging asylum adjudications against refugees so they are turned back to persecution and danger.”
While Human Rights First welcomes some measures in the bill, such as the increase of asylum officers and the inclusion of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Legal Orientation Programs at border facilities, we remain deeply concerned about provisions in the bill that would:
- Create at least four new processing centers operated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) where credible fear screening interviews and potentially full asylum interviews would be conducted within 72 hours – an absurd time frame for life-and-death adjudications. Such interviews should be conducted after asylum seekers reach their destination locations, not immediately after traumatized and exhausted people are taken into CBP custody; and
- Launch “priority” immigration court processing that risks creating “rocket dockets” that have undermined due process and actually exacerbated case backlogs.
Instead, Human Rights First urges members of Congress to support the Refugee Protection Act and to demand the Biden administration implement measures that uphold U.S. refugee law and leadership.
Human Rights First, along with asylum legal experts, legal providers, and law professors, have laid out concrete recommendations for a fair, effective, and timely asylum system. Human Rights First has also documented the horrific humanitarian consequences of flawed, rushed, and rigged asylum screenings and proceedings, including the Trump administration’s so-called Prompt Asylum Claim Review and Humanitarian Asylum Review Process. This week, it issued a report detailing the harms caused by the Biden administration’s decision to continue to use the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to block and expel asylum seekers.