The Biden administration proposed a new rule that would bar most migrants from being able to seek asylum if they did not seek asylum in a country through which they transited or based on how they entered. This is, essentially, an asylum ban, and an almost exact copy of a similar policy by the Trump administration.
The rule is convoluted, and bars asylum seekers unless they either 1) applied for asylum in a third country on the way to the U.S. and were denied and 2) have a previously-scheduled appointment at the port of entry, which must be done through CBP One (more on this later). They also cannot have crossed between ports of entry; anyone who does not fit with these criteria will be presumed ineligible for asylum, subject to certain exceptions due to “exceptionally compelling circumstances.”
The rule would also make CBP One, a smartphone app that allows migrants to book asylum appointments at ports of entry, the only pathway to seek asylum. This bars migrants without the finances and resources, such as having a smartphone or stable internet connection, from any hope of finding safety.
Navigating the app is also an impossible nightmare. As we detailed in collaboration with our RFM USA partners in a report to the OHCHR, the app has been fraught with numerous glitches. The facial recognition software is struggling to detect migrants with darker skin, blocking Black and Brown asylum seekers from reaching safety.
The CBP One app has also had difficulties recognizing children. Additionally, families are often unable to register all family members before the appointment slots rapidly fill. This leaves parents with the impossible decision to either forgo their asylum hearing or separate from their children. This is the new reality of family separation.
Meanwhile, Title 42 remains in place at least until May, when the COVID-19 emergency is set to expire. 20 states led by anti-immigrant politicians are suing the Biden administration in an attempt to end the humanitarian parole program, which allows Haitians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Cubans to apply to live and work in the U.S. for up to 2 years.
We celebrate any new pathways to lawful migration, but the humanitarian parole program is no replacement for asylum. And should the lawsuit block new applications, it will mean that most migrants are left with virtually no legal options left to seek safety in the U.S.
How to Take Action
Speak out Against the Asylum Ban: Right now until March 27th, the Biden admin is accepting comments from the general public on the proposed rule. Visit NoAsylumBan.us to leave a comment explaining why you think an asylum ban is a bad idea. Make sure to edit the example comment, as duplicate comments will not be included.
Stand Up for Humanitarian Parole: We urge any residents of the 20 states that are currently suing the Biden administration to end the humanitarian parole program for Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans, to contact your governor and attorney general and let them know that you disagree. Click HERE to see if you are a resident, and to find your local officials’ contact information.
You can click HERE to support our work to defend the rights of asylum seekers.