asylum seekers are being denied by deterrence policies
Fearing increased border crossings, the Biden administration reinstated a Donald Trump-era asylum ban for most southern border migrants. Federal courts found a similar ban violated U.S. and international law. The Biden administration clung to deterrence like a child to candy, providing false comfort without proof.
I learned this summer from Mexican migrants that carrots work better than sticks. Safe asylum options make harsh deterrence policies unnecessary and ineffective.
Tuesday’s federal judge halted the asylum ban. The judge postponed his ruling.
Asylum-seekers who fail to use the CBP One phone app to schedule an appointment at southern border ports of entry to request protection face the asylum ban. Despite its many issues, asylum-seekers have been motivated to use the app. Migrants can confidently enter the U.S. with an appointment. Asylum-seekers who fail to get an appointment should not be punished or mistreated. CBP One and other humanitarian initiatives help the US meet its asylum-seeker obligations.
The U.S. has deterred asylum-seekers at the southern border with deterrence policies across administrations. Such policies have separated families, threatened lives, strengthened criminal organizations, and cost billions. Investing more in border communities and programmes that integrate migrants would benefit the economy.
I’ve met dozens of migrants seeking asylum in the US through Mexico. All agreed that CBP One is known and used by everyone. Since none of the migrants I spoke with knew about the asylum ban, which applies to all non-Mexican asylum seekers entering the US at the southern border or nearby coastal waters who don’t use the app or fit into the rule’s narrow exceptions. After I explained the new rule, asylum-seekers still cited Mexican violence and extortion as the main deterrent to their journey to the US.
The Department of Homeland Security claims that “the rule is working as intended” to deter asylum seekers amid renewed legal challenges. It has also suggested that if ended, a parade of bad things would follow, including high levels of illegal migration that would strain government agencies and overwhelm shelter capacity across the US. The government hasn’t provided any evidence.
However, the new ban arbitrarily denies asylum to desperate asylum seekers. Before the ban, 83% of single adult migrants claiming asylum had a chance of being granted protection and could pursue their claims in court. The ban has allowed only 46% of single adults to continue their asylum claims. Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan still have political repression. The US simply ignored asylum-seekers.
If the administration wants a manageable border policy that honors its legal obligations to asylum-seekers, it should immediately lift the asylum ban. The recent ruling gave the administration time, but it should significantly increase CBP One appointments per day and provide more robust and sustainable funding to organizations and local governments across the nation supporting and welcoming migrants. The government can expand parole eligibility to other nationalities. Abandon protection seeker deterrence now.