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Women’s Refugee Commission Decries Biden Transit Ban

Washington — The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, respectively, today announced a new rule that would ban people from seeking asylum in the United States if they did not first attempt to do so in a country through which they transited. The ban, which continues President Trump’s restrictive border policies, would deny many people the ability to seek asylum if they do not use other legal pathways or first apply in countries of transit.

Today’s rule will undergo a 30-day public comment period and be reviewed before final publication.

In response to today’s announcement, Kimiko Hirota, policy advisor of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

“Let’s not sugarcoat this — we are horrified by this updated version of President Trump’s transit ban. New parole programs are no replacement for a functioning asylum system. The Biden administration is cherry-picking winners and losers based on who has access to things like passports, U.S. sponsors, and the means to fly into the U.S. For many asylum seekers, they flee their homes with just the clothes on their back and a phone in their hand, making them ineligible for these parole pathways. A transit ban will harm thousands of people desperate to seek protection in the United States.

“Congress specifically wrote our laws to ensure that everyone — regardless of nationality, race, or manner of entry — has a fair chance to seek safety in the U.S. Federal courts already found that the Trump administration’s transit ban violated U.S. asylum laws, including because supposed ‘safe’ transit countries like Mexico are in fact not safe for many people seeking asylum. Tragically, we know that thousands of asylum seekers have experienced violent assault, rape, and other attacks in Mexico. Today’s announcement is a slap in the face to families seeking safety and to U.S. and international law.”


Learn more about WRC’s work on asylum, legal, and human rights.