Public Comments Urge Withdrawal of Biden Administration’s Proposed Asylum Ban
On February 23, 2023, the Biden administration proposed a rule that would ban many refugees from asylum. Groups had been anticipating this rule and nearly 300 non-governmental organizations and nearly 80 members of Congress voiced their strong opposition to the asylum ban — even before the proposed rule was out. After the proposed rule was published, organizations issued factsheets and explainers detailing the harms of the rule and the chaos it would inflict if implemented. The proposed rule would bar from asylum many refugees who qualify for it, turn many away to grave harms and deprive others of a path to citizenship or the ability to reunite with their spouses and children. There are paths forward that are legal, fair, and humane — the asylum ban is none of these.
If implemented, the rule would violate U.S. laws and international obligations and impose tremendous human costs — yet the government provided a mere 30 days for public comment (this truncated timeline also met significant opposition). Despite this unduly short 30-day comment period, over 51,000 individuals and organizations filed comments. The vast majority of comments opposed the asylum ban. The immediate and overwhelming opposition to the proposed asylum ban is a testament to the support for asylum. This document details the strong opposition to the proposed rule and strong support for the right to seek asylum.
A notably diverse array of administration allies, nonpartisan groups, legal experts, and civil society groups condemned the proposed rule and overwhelmingly urged the administration to withdraw it. In addition to refugee and immigrant rights advocates, a wide range of faith-based, human rights, civil rights, and other civil society organizations, as well as Members of Congress, the UN Refugee Agency, and the asylum officers’ union have stressed that the proposed rule would violate U.S. law, international law, and treaties binding on the United States, inflict grave harms on people seeking refugee protection, cause disorder, and dysfunction, and discourage other countries from hosting refugees.
The rules’ opponents include Black-led organizations, the Catholic Bishops, major unions and civil rights organizations representing millions of people, leading LGBTQ advocacy organizations, Holocaust survivors and their families, Rabbis, former refugees and asylum seekers, and 82 Members of Congress from the president’s own party. On the other hand, anti-immigrant hate groups welcomed the proposal to bar refugees from U.S. asylum.