News & Events

Federal Update: Biden’s Executive Order Restricting Asylum – ACTION ALERT

As immigrant communities across the country celebrated the start of Immigrant Heritage Month, President Biden issued a new Executive Order (EO) that makes it even more difficult for those seeking refuge to enter the U.S. The new EO, which went into effect Tuesday morning, would block many newly arrived asylum seekers from even being able to start the asylum application process, and instead creates a presumption that they are not eligible if they did not enter through a port of entry. 

 For those seeking entry without a valid visa and who are requesting asylum at the border, the administration has already required that they use the CBP One app in order to schedule an appointment. However, the year-old app is filled with glitches and only allows for 1,450 appointments a day, leaving many of the 7,000+ daily arrivals out in the cold. Because CBP One restricts access, many families are forced to make the difficult crossing between ports of entry then present themselves to US officials once they’re already in the country. Under this new EO, such practices would bar families from being able to begin the asylum process – people at the border are left with only the option of waiting and hoping that they can get an appointment through CBP One.

This administration knows better and has seen what happens when you block vulnerable people from access to safety. The Trump Administration had famously used Title 42 to block immigrants, and especially asylum seekers, from entering the U.S during the pandemic, and the Biden Administration kept the policy in place until May of last year. Many cannot wait for the U.S. to allow them in, so they try to cross the border and drown in the Rio Grande River or die of thirst in the Arizona desert; Fiscal Year 2022 saw nearly 900 deaths at the border. Some choose to wait in often precarious situations in northern Mexico in the hopes that they can get an appointment through CBP One.  As immigrants, they are often particularly vulnerable to criminal gangs who operate in those regions.  Between January 2021 and December of 2022, Human Rights Watch documented over 13,400 cases of kidnapping, rape, murder, torture and other violent crimes against immigrants and asylum seekers who were denied entry to or removed from the U.S. According to one HRW researcher, “It’s systematic. They kidnap them, put their phones on airplane mode, take photos of them and their documents, then go through their contacts and call US numbers until they find relatives they can extort for dollars.”

This latest move by the Biden Administration makes a mockery of due process and our humanitarian values. Individuals and families are being blocked from applying for asylum, a right enshrined in our laws.

 For decades, we have poured billions of dollars into counterproductive enforcement-only strategies, and Congressional leadership, with the administration’s support, has tried to double-down twice on these failed policies just in the past four months. Our leaders in DC need to recognize that the suffering and death on the border is a crisis of their own creation.  They have every opportunity to reverse course and invest in people, as the real solution to our border problems. 

Please join us in urging the Biden administration to reverse this inhumane policy decision