Go to Press Releases library
Press Releases

New Report from the Border: Biden Asylum Ban Devastating for Families Seeking Asylum; US and Mexico Officials Illegally Turning People Back at Ports of Entry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a fact-finding mission to the U.S. border with Mexico, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) today released a short report showing that the new Biden asylum ban – formally known as Circumvention of Lawful Pathways – leaves families seeking asylum stranded in dangerous conditions. U.S. and Mexico border officials are illegally turning back people seeking safety at ports of entry.

WRC traveled to Reynosa and Matamoros, Mexico to meet with people seeking asylum and frontline providers at two shelters and three makeshift encampments. WRC also met with U.S. service providers and local U.S. immigration officials in south Texas.

“This visit confirmed what we have known for some time – the Biden administration’s asylum ban is dangerous, if not deadly, and illegal,” said Kimiko Hirota, policy advisor for WRC’s Migrant Rights and Justice program.

The highly restrictive asylum ban requires that people seeking safety have already been denied asylum in another country, prove they meet limited exceptions in immigration court, or entered the U.S. via the CBP One mobile application (CBP One) or a country-specific parole program. New migration pathways created by the administration, such as parole for people of certain nationalities, do not mitigate the need or the right for people to seek asylum.

On July 25, a federal judge ruled that the asylum ban is unlawful and mirrors the Trump administration’s transit and entry bans, which were also struck down as unlawful.  While the case continues through the courts, the asylum ban continues to apply. WRC also found that CBP One remains a significant barrier to people accessing their legal right to claim asylum.

“President Biden’s border policies violate U.S. laws and cause harm,” said Hirota. “Because of the ban, people desperate for protection are languishing in a perilous limbo for weeks if not months in dangerous northern Mexico cities. I heard first-hand from women trying to access their legal right to seek asylum who have been threatened and kidnapped and are forced to live in deplorable conditions. Families shared that criminal groups and authorities have stolen cell phones along their journey – taking away the only lifeline right now for any hope of getting an appointment to enter the United States and finally be safe.”

WRC also heard from people seeking asylum and local service providers that Black and Asian-presenting asylum seekers are routinely stopped by Mexican border officials when presenting at the bridges in Reynosa and Matamoros and are turned away. WRC saw Mexican immigration officials stop and require Haitian men to show their CBP One appointments to reach the international bridge and heard from other people seeking asylum that they were turned away when trying to seek protection without an appointment.

“The Biden administration has the tools to create and invest in a humane and orderly asylum system, and yet continually chooses deterrence over dignity,” said Hirota. “What we saw on our trip underscores further that additional migration pathways cannot replace access to the asylum system. The Biden administration should immediately stop defending its restrictions on asylum and instead ensure that people can seek asylum regardless of their nationality, race, or manner of entry. President Biden has yet to live up to his campaign promises for families seeking safety. We urge him to stop choosing politics over the lives of asylum-seeking families.”

To learn more about WRC’s findings and recommendations, visit this page.