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Press Release // Immigration and Asylum

Sweeping asylum ban released as Title 42 restrictions expire

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LIRS Staff

May 10, 2023

Contact: Tim Young |

Washington, D.C. – With Title 42 asylum restrictions set to expire on May 11, the Biden administration today released its controversial new rule barring asylum eligibility for those who cross the border between ports of entry and did not first seek – and be denied – protection in a country they transited through to reach the United States.

The new rule mirrors a transit asylum ban first implemented under the Trump administration, which was ultimately struck down by federal judges in multiple courts.  The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides that people seeking protection may apply for asylum regardless of manner of entry, and does not require them to have first applied for protection in another country.

Despite this longstanding legal right, the Biden administration has argued that the asylum ban is justifiable due to an expansion of alternative immigration pathways. Officials have pointed to a humanitarian parole program allowing temporary admission of 30,000 nationals per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; a commitment to launch regional processing centers in Latin America; and a smartphone application for migrants to reserve asylum appointments. However, the humanitarian parole program is only open to a select few nationalities and faces litigation in federal court; regional processing centers in Latin America are not expected to be immediately operational; and the CBP One application has been plagued by technical glitches and overwhelming demand.

In response to the implementation of the asylum ban, Lee Williams, Chief Programs Officer at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said:

“At a time of unprecedented global displacement, the Biden administration has elected to defy decades of humanitarian protections enshrined in U.S. law and international agreements. Forcing persecuted people to first seek protection in countries with no functioning asylum systems is as ludicrous as it is life-threatening. This ban is Title 42 in sheep’s clothing, and it will have a devastating impact on children and families already uprooted by unimaginable violence, persecution, poverty, and climate disaster.

We welcome steps taken to expand pathways to protection from home countries, such as humanitarian parole programs, family reunification processes, and increased refugee admissions, but under no circumstances should they replace asylum as the last best hope for families in desperate need of safety. While a smartphone app would be a valuable complement to a functioning asylum system, overwhelming demand for what is now the only way to seek protection at the border has transformed CBP One into a life-or-death lottery. And though the administration’s stick is an immediate ban, its carrot requires time to set-up processing facilities in Latin America and vet applicants – time that many asylum-seeking families in imminent danger simply do not have.

We urge the Biden administration to reverse course before this misguided rule betrays core American values and denies protection to those most in need of it. There will be challenges along the way, but the U.S. has the resources and compassion to welcome people with dignity. Generations of Americans have opened their doors and their hearts to these newcomers, and their presence will continue to make our country, our economy, and our communities stronger.”

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