American Immigration Council Unveils Blueprint for a Modern and Functional Border and Asylum System

May 3, 2023
Last modified: 
May 2, 2023

WASHINGTON—A new vision and blueprint for the border released today by the American Immigration Council highlights the need for a modern and functional system of humanitarian protection and border management in the United States. The whitepaper, “Beyond a Border Solution: How to Build a Humanitarian Protection System That Won’t Break,” emphasizes the need for policymakers to abandon short-term solutionism and acknowledge that only sustained investment over a period of time can realistically address 21st century migration and displacement challenges.

As Title 42 is scheduled to sunset on May 11 and the Biden administration announces plans to manage an expected increase in migration at the southern border, this paper offers a roadmap for building a  functional, flexible, and orderly asylum system that at the same time ensures effective border management.

The report draws extensively on government data and public reporting to assess the history of recent border management and subsequent presidential administrations’ responses to migration at the U.S. southern border.

The recommendations of the paper to the Biden administration and Congress include:

  1. Expand Customs and Border Protection’s capacity to process asylum seekers at ports of entry.
  2. Surge resources to U.S. Border Patrol for humanitarian processing.
  3. Establish a Center for Migrant Coordination to work with receiving communities.
  4. Grow federal support for case management alternatives to detention.
  5. Revamp asylum processing at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  6. Begin clearing immigration court asylum backlogs.
  7. Construct noncustodial regional processing centers at the border.
  8. Execute the termination of Title 42.
  9. Fund a right to an attorney in immigration court.
  10. Create a Federal Emergency Management Agency-based Emergency Migration Fund.
  11. Increase legal immigration pathways.
  12. Build domestic and international refugee and asylum processing capacity in Latin America.
  13. Bring asylum law into the 21st century.

For decades, the United States has been a beacon of hope for people seeking freedom and safety. However, in the 21st century, the global displacement crisis has led to humanitarian migration at levels far above what the 20th-century system can handle. The current system is dysfunctional and failing to meet the needs of the government, border communities, and asylum seekers.

“The failure to build a modern and functional system of humanitarian protection has led to overcrowding, bottlenecks, and chaos at the border. But hope still exists,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council. “America needs durable solutions, not simplistic soundbites. This means taking concrete steps right now that work to bring orderliness and fairness to the overwhelmed asylum process at our southern border, and to do so in a way that builds toward a long term set of solutions that work on the ground, reflect our values and serve our interests. Rebuilding a functional system does not require a radical overhaul of U.S. immigration law. We can build a system that reflects our values, is true to our laws, and has public support because it is in the interest of the nation.”

“America needs a serious plan for sustainable border solutions. The Council’s paper offers a blueprint for action that, taken together and implemented fully, will put a system in place that protects our borders, protects asylum seekers, and protects America’s moral standing as a safe haven and global leader in human rights. At the heart of this paper is the belief that the essential goals of meaningful humanitarian protection and effective border security can both be achieved. Our proposition is not ‘either or,’ rather it is ‘both and.’ How to make humanitarian protection and border security be the two sides of the same coin, is at the heart of the paper’s recommendations. We urge policymakers on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to read the recommendations and act to achieve lasting results,” said Angela Kelley, chief advisor, policy & partnerships at the American Immigration Council.

“The problem isn’t that too many people are seeking asylum. The problem is that the U.S. hasn’t done the work to handle those who come. That's what creates backlash,” said Dara Lind, senior fellow at the American Immigration Council. “The good news is that that problem is easier to solve. It’s one we can start solving right now, by building durable humanitarian-protection infrastructure, rather than throwing endless billions away each time the government panics.”

“The United States needs a humanitarian protection system that is fair, fast, and final—one that provides access to all who wish to apply, quickly protects those who qualify, while also ensuring that those who don’t ultimately depart the country. It’s time for our elected leaders to set aside the partisan politics and simplistic distortions that have defined the debate surrounding the border for far too long to do the hard work of finding compromise,” said Jorge Loweree, managing director of programs at the American Immigration Council.



For more information, contact: 

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526


Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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