U.S. Border and Asylum Policies Harm Black Asylum Seekers

Black asylum seekers face significant discrimination and barriers within the U.S. asylum system and encounter targeted violence and mistreatment. The asylum ban and related restrictions deny most African asylum seekers equal access to asylum at ports of entry and punish those who cross between ports of entry to seek safety. These barriers strand Black asylum seekers in Mexico for months where they face targeted violence. Black asylum seekers also face disparate treatment and anti-Black discrimination within U.S. immigration, detention, and enforcement systems, including unjust credible fear denials and expedited removals, and alarming mistreatment in immigration detention.

Black asylum seekers stranded in Mexico face prolonged waits, discrimination, and significant health risks due to inadequate access to medical care and dangerous living conditions. The fact sheet highlights instances of anti-Black and anti-Muslim abuse within DHS custody, emphasizing the urgent need for systemic reforms to protect the rights and safety of asylum seekers, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Our researchers spoke to several asylum speakers at the border, including a Ghanaian gay man fleeing persecution in Ghana due to his sexuality. He was subjected to physical assault, including being beaten, tased, and robbed, by Mexican immigration authorities while on a bus. Hear his testimony below.

Recent legislative proposals like H.R.2, the Secure the Border Act or those proposed by Senators Lankford, Murphy, and Sinema, or the Biden administration’s deployment of more or higher barriers to asylum will put African, Haitian, Black, and other asylum seekers at greater risk of persecution, torture, and other harms.

Human Rights First calls on the Biden administration and Congress to reject further restrictions on asylum access and instead ensure equitable and just treatment for all asylum seekers. Key recommendations include improving access at ports of entry, rescinding the asylum ban, and addressing systemic racism and mistreatment within immigration enforcement agencies. You can find our full set of recommendations here.

Fact Sheets

Published on February 12, 2024


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