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Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns White House and Congressional Plans to Dismantle U.S. Asylum

Washington, D.C. — In response to yesterday’s news report that the White House is considering new restrictions to asylum in the U.S. and expanding rapid deportations nationwide, Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

“As lawmakers continue their inappropriate efforts to negotiate away key refugee protections in exchange for foreign aid, the Women’s Refugee Commission today is gravely concerned to hear that the Biden administration is not only open to these negotiations but is now putting the expansion of expedited removal nationwide on the table, in addition to already proposed restrictions to asylum.

“It was never acceptable to consider trading key asylum protections as part of these negotiations, and it’s shameful that the Biden administration would also consider policies to round up immigrants throughout the country for quick deportation. People’s lives are not bargaining chips. Expanding expedited removal would have devastating impacts on people’s right to seek asylum. It also could subject countless people, including families with U.S. citizen children living in the United States, to rapid deportation with no chance for due process.

“While we are horrified to see expanded expedited removal added to the negotiations, the Women’s Refugee Commission—as did more than 150 other organizations—denounces all of the already proposed measures, which would decimate the U.S. asylum system and only increase chaos at the border. Immigration measures should never have had a place in negotiations over foreign aid, but it is especially unconscionable to turn to the Trump-era playbook of anti-asylum proposals that fly in the face of our humanity. If Congress wants to seriously address the needs at the U.S. border, it should invest in expanded asylum processing capacity at ports of entry and resource the organizations and cities around the country who welcome and help those seeking asylum navigate the U.S. immigration process.

“Just a year ago, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called asylum one of the United States’ ‘crown jewels.’ The U.S. should be leading in expanding protection-centered approaches to displacement and migration, and uphold our longstanding commitments to protecting the persecuted. Cutting off access to asylum and enshrining rapid deportation proceedings without due process will do nothing to fix a global displacement crisis, but will have life-or-death consequences for those seeking safety in the U.S. today.”


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