New Asylum Transit Ban Is Dangerous and Shortsighted

May 10, 2023
Last modified: 
May 10, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, the Biden administration announced the implementation of an asylum transit ban that will penalize asylum seekers who don’t apply for protection in other nations they transit through on their way to the United States, unless they come through a prescheduled appointment at a port of entry or meet a narrow set of exceptions.

The asylum transit ban—which mirrors one of the Trump administration’s most restrictive border control measures—would severely limit asylum for any non-Mexican who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry, unless they had previously applied and been denied asylum in another country before arrival or met a narrow set of exceptions which will be out of reach for most asylum seekers.

Individuals who manage to obtain an appointment to seek protection at a port of entry through the use of the CBP One app will be exempt. The Biden administration announced last week that they will make up to 1,000 appointment slots available each day through the app by means of a semi-random algorithm.

The following statement is from Jeremy Robbins, Executive Director at the American Immigration Council:

“When President Biden took office, he promised to restore a safe, orderly, and humane asylum process. But with today’s announcement, the process for accessing asylum at the southern border has been reduced to a lottery for a limited number of appointments at ports of entry. This unlawful action will create unnecessary barriers to protection and put the lives of asylum seekers at risk.

“Today’s crackdown on asylum seekers, many of whom are fleeing from globally recognized oppressive regimes, is a reminder that immigration isn’t just about enforcement—it’s about American leadership and identity. Policymakers must abandon a fantasy of short-term solutionism and acknowledge that only sustained investment into our humanitarian protection systems over a period of time can realistically address these 21st century challenges. But while that investment is being made, we must continue to respect the rights of people seeking safety under the promises we made as a nation.

“Rather than force asylum seekers to seek protection in countries which even the U.S. government admits are not safe, the Biden administration and Congress should work together to create a flexible and orderly asylum system, which will reduce unjust outcomes and incentivize regular migration. Investment in dedicated humanitarian processing infrastructure at the border and in receiving communities will reduce unexpected fiscal burdens, limit strain on law enforcement resources, and improve human rights.”

The American Immigration Council has a range of research and other resources on asylum in the United States, including experts available to speak on concerns with the asylum transit ban and recommendations to bring orderliness to our border and modernize our overwhelmed asylum system.



 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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