Rights advocates: Questions remain over how new asylum restriction will work on the ground

Published: Wednesday, May 10, 2023 - 5:36pm

The Biden administration has finalized a long-awaited asylum rule that’s set to go into effect at the border this week. 

The new rule, published to the Federal Register this morning, requires asylum seekers to ask for protection in a different country before doing so in the U.S. Migrants who don’t seek protection elsewhere first must use the CBP One app to request an appointment at a U.S. port of entry.

Rights groups and some lawmakers sharply criticized the rule when the Biden administration proposed it earlier this year, arguing it’s a revamp of a Trump-era policy already forced to a halt in court. The now-finalized rule in also expected to face legal challenges.

Alex Miller is the director of the Immigration Justice Campaign at the American Immigration Council.

"It's important to distinguish the letter of the rule and the reality that we are going to confront at the border once Title 42 ends," she said. "I think there’s a lot of uncertainty at what exactly the border is going to look like, how individuals will be able to or won’t be able to seek asylum at ports of entry outside of CBP One." 

Miller says it's also unclear how the new rule will factor into credible fear interviews that Citizenship and Immigration Services officers conduct to determine asylum eligibility. She says the CBP One app isn’t accessible to everyone, and appointments are limited. Meanwhile, the final rule requires migrants to not only apply for asylum elsewhere but to have been denied. She says that’s not always feasible, because many of the countries they transit through just don’t have the infrastructure to provide protection. 

"But on top of that, because of the risk that certain migrants face in transit countries, this is particularly true of Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ asylum seekers who may face the same obstacles and the same persecution in transit countries that they face in their home countries," she said. 

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