Washington, D.C. June 4, 2024 – President Biden today announced a proclamation and interim final rule that will further ban access to asylum for people seeking safety at the U.S.-Mexico border. When southern border encounters with migrants reach an average of 2,500 per day over a week period, migrants entering between ports of entry will be ineligible for asylum, with extremely limited exceptions. In addition, migrants who enter through the southern border and undergo expedited screenings while the proclamation is in effect will no longer be screened for fear of returning to their country and instead must spontaneously express their fear of return. Migrants who are deemed ineligible for asylum must meet a new, much higher standard to qualify for other, lesser forms of humanitarian protection. Migrants who are unable to establish a “reasonable probability” of prosecution or torture will be removed and subject to at least a five-year bar to reentry and potential criminal prosecution. These restrictions are set to go into effect at midnight.

The previous administration attempted to use the same presidential authority to suspend the unauthorized entry of migrants at the southern border, and it was struck down as unlawful. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows people to seek asylum regardless of manner of entry. The Biden administration revoked these restrictions and is now attempting to block access to asylum using this authority.

Today’s executive actions are the latest in a series of actions by the Biden administration, including last summer’s asylum ban and the implementation of the flawed CBP One Mobile Application (CBP One), that have made access to asylum increasingly difficult in the U.S. Migrant encounters at the southwest border are already down 40 percent from the end of last year.

“People who live in fear of violence and persecution flee their homes – and all they know – because they must, not because they want to,” said Melanie Nezer, vice president of advocacy and external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Chipping away at the legal right to seek asylum is a lose-lose strategy – it will send migrants who are fleeing persecution back to danger and does not make the U.S. any safer or our border secure. We have seen first-hand the suffering and harm these kinds of policies create. We urge the administration to work on solutions that we know work.”

The Women’s Refugee Commission has conducted several fact-finding missions to the U.S.-Mexico border to assess the conditions facing families seeking safety as well as to communities across the U.S., including Denver, Chicago, New York City, and Portland (ME), to identify key best practices for welcoming people seeking asylum.

“We need to get out of crisis and emergency mode and approach the arrival of immigrants as an ongoing phenomenon we can manage – because we can,” said Nezer. “It’s arbitrary to allow people to seek safety from persecution when fewer people are coming to the border but block them when there are more. There is a lot of conflict and violence in the world causing people to flee – this is not their fault, and their legal rights must be upheld. We are seeing communities from all over the country step forward to help welcome asylum seekers with compassion. While the national conversation is mired in election year politicking, there is real energy and support at the local level.”

Specifically, WRC urges the Biden administration to:

  • Rescind recent anti-asylum rules and restore access to asylum.
  • Increase the number of CBP One appointments and make the app available in more languages.
  • Support the Shelter and Services Program and the Case Management Pilot Program.
  • Support coordination for asylum reception among local service providers and local and state governments.
  • The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) is creating a better world for refugees. WRC catalyzes transformative change to protect and empower women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis.