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Federal Judge Confirms What Advocates Knew: Biden's Asylum Ban IS Illegal

President Biden should invest in humane solutions not defending cruel and deadly policies.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 25, 2023


CONTACT:


Washington - The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights welcomes Judge Tigar’s decision blocking the Biden administration’s asylum ban. The asylum ban was implemented to replace Title 42 and dramatically curtail access to protection by barring most people from asylum with very limited exceptions. The ban combines and repackages two Trump-era policies that the federal courts previously struck down as unlawful. Today’s ruling affirms that Biden’s ban is just as illegal. It is shameful that the administration is defending the ban, rather than ending it and meeting the humanitarian challenges at our border with humane, dignified solutions.


“This ruling is the right decision. “Entry” and “transit” bans were cruel and illegal under the Trump administration and are just as cruel and illegal under this administration,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “President Biden should finally uphold his campaign commitment to implement humane, orderly immigration policies that uphold refugee law and respect asylum rights. Across the nation, communities welcome families and individuals seeking asylum, as they have for decades, as they did for my family. It is time for the Biden administration to uphold these American values.”


Counsel in the case:

“The ruling is a victory, but each day the Biden administration prolongs the fight over its illegal ban, many people fleeing persecution and seeking safe harbor for their families are instead left in grave danger,” said Katrina Eiland, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. “The promise of America is to serve as a beacon of freedom and hope, and the administration can and should do better to fulfill this promise, rather than perpetuate cruel and ineffective policies that betray it.”


“The court got it right. President Biden’s asylum ban violates our laws and makes a mockery of our asylum system,” said Melissa Crow, Director of Litigation at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) and co-counsel in the case. “Last week the government conceded that under the ban, people with meritorious legal claims can be barred from asylum and deported to countries where they face grave harm. To them, that is an acceptable price to pay for the illusion of border management. But they are breaking the law, sowing chaos, and putting vulnerable people in harm’s way. We urge the administration to stop defending this illegal policy, and instead take immediate steps to establish a fair and humane process that upholds the rights of all people seeking refuge at our nation’s doorstep.”


“The court’s ruling is welcome and expected, since the new policy simply rehashed prior rules that restricted access to asylum based on similar grounds, which courts already rejected,” said Keren Zwick, Director of Litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center and co-counsel in the case. “U.S. laws protect the rights of people fleeing persecution to come to this country and pursue asylum, full stop. We encourage the Biden administration to now direct its resources to upholding that right, rather than fighting to continue this unlawful and inhumane asylum ban.”


Plaintiff organizations:


“We applaud today’s ruling finding that the Asylum Ban is unlawful. Besides violating both international and domestic law, the Asylum Ban flouts our moral obligation to protect those who are fleeing persecution. Instead of trying to keep people out, it’s time for the Biden Administration to focus on creating and expanding lawful pathways that welcome those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. It’s time to restore dignity and humanity to our asylum system,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, Executive Director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center.


“Today’s ruling affirms every person’s legal right to safely seek asylum and protection in the United States and is a victory for those dedicated to the creation of a humane immigration system. We are grateful that, with this decision, Judge Tigar affirmed what we already knew to be true: this asylum ban is contrary to law and puts immigrant women, girls, and all survivors of gender-based violence at a higher risk of danger along our southern border,” said Charlotte Gillingham, Litigation Counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center. “The court’s decision today is an important step toward ensuring that survivors of gender-based violence, and all immigrants fleeing persecution, are able to exercise their right to seek asylum with dignity and fairness and without fear of being sent back into harm’s way.”


Advocates:

“This ruling upholds decades of well-established humanitarian law, and in doing so, protects the legal rights of the most vulnerable families fleeing unthinkable violence and persecution,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “Whether the barriers are bureaucratic or physically covered in razor wire, turning our backs on desperate people in dire need is shameful. We urge the Biden administration to abandon the failed policies of its predecessor and instead continue building safe, orderly pathways that protect vulnerable families and uphold our values as a nation of refuge.”

“Today’s district court opinion recognizes that all individuals have the legal right to apply for asylum regardless of how they enter US territory. President Biden’s asylum ban is illegal and dangerous, just like his predecessor’s racist travel ban, causing irreparable damage to countless individuals every single day since its implementation,” said Jennifer Babaie, Director of Advocacy and Legal Services at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. “It is long overdue for our government to center the dignity and humanity of people seeking safety at our borders and make investments in our legal and humanitarian infrastructures designed to protect vulnerable people on the move. Only by doing so can we have a safe, humane, and orderly border that meets our legal and ethical commitments as a society. Although there is a long road to go before we are rid of this policy for good, this is an important reminder for advocates to continue to push back against any more restrictions on the right to asylum in this country.”

“The court’s ruling leaves no room for doubt that Biden’s asylum ban is unlawful,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “The administration should use this opportunity to end this ‘temporary’ rule. Human Rights First’s research has documented how in just two months of this policy, people waiting to seek asylum have suffered brutal assaults and kidnappings while left waiting in danger in Mexico. The Biden administration should abandon this illegal and inhumane policy and focus on restoring access to asylum for people facing persecution.”


“The Women’s Refugee Commission celebrates today’s ruling, in which the court correctly ruled that the Biden administration’s asylum ban violates United States law in numerous ways,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Just last week, our team visited both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and spoke to dozens of individuals who have attempted for weeks or months to seek asylum at the U.S. border and remain trapped in dire conditions and fearful for their safety. Their stories and desperation underscore how critical it is that the administration now abandons its attempts to restrict access to asylum, policies that are not at all understood and do not stop people from wanting to seek safety at the border. We urge the Biden administration to now fully restore the right to seek asylum and build a fair, orderly, and humane process to welcome, rather than punish, vulnerable people.”


“The Biden administration's asylum ban is unlawful, and the court agrees,” said Patricia Stottlemyer, Senior Domestic Policy Advisor at Oxfam America. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: seeking asylum is a legal and human right. Policies that violate this right by blocking access to asylum only harm vulnerable refugees seeking safety. We urge the Biden administration to restore access to asylum for all those seeking protection in the United States."


“Gutting the asylum program in violation of the law creates chaos, not order, and does nothing to create a safe, orderly and fair system by which migrants may have their asylum claims fairly adjudicated,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Ultimately though, only Congress can fully fix the broken asylum and immigration system, giving people the option of coming with visas for family or work and legalizing those who already work here. Congress must deliver the modernization we need. In the meantime we call on the administration to use the tools it has, including dedicating more resources to the border to address asylum backlogs, while using parole programs, TPS, and the refugee admissions process to stabilize the system and provide additional pathways for those in need of protection.”


“We welcome today’s ruling that the Asylum Ban violates United States law,” said Ronnate Asirwatham, Director Government Relations NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “"In the two-and-a-half months that this ban has been in place it has caused irreparable harm to people seeking safety and also to our nation. We echo Pope Francis’ words to Congress: 'Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.' And we call on the Biden administration to be courageous and not appeal this ruling.".”


“We applaud the court’s decision finding that the Biden Administration's asylum ban was simply a continuation of illegal Trump-era policies that had been repeatedly rejected by the courts,” said Linda Evarts, Senior Supervising Attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “The asylum ban must be eradicated for good: every day it remains in effect asylum seekers are separated from their families and sent back into harm’s way.”


“We are relieved that Judge Tiger has recognized the Asylum Ban as unlawful,” said Victoria Neilson, Supervising Attorney at NIPNLG. “NIPNLG and Together & Free’s recently issued report following our recent visits to Matamoros and Reynosa bears witness to the danger and chaos caused by the restrictions on asylum the Biden Administration has placed. We call on the administration to quickly end the Asylum Ban so that asylum seekers will have full access to asylum at our southern border once again.”


"Yesterday’s federal court ruling was a clear affirmation of our moral and legal obligation as a country to honor the right to seek asylum,” said Jane Liu, Director of Policy and Litigation at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “For weeks, President Biden’s asylum ban has denied this right and forced many children and families into truly horrific and dangerous situations. Families have been left to sleep on the streets along the border after being turned away at ports of entry. To try to seek safety and protection, children and families have been forced to forge through deadly barbed razor wire put in place at the border by Texas officials and endure extreme lacerations on their bodies. Many have been left in the deadly heat without water. The asylum ban is cruel and inhumane, and has failed to create a safe, fair, and orderly immigration system. We urge the Biden administration to stop defending this illegal and inhumane ban and restore the right to asylum for all.”


“We celebrate the bravery of the plaintiffs and co-counsel organizations who fought to defend the rights of asylum seekers and the fundamental access to safety, regardless of their manner of entry,” said Joan Agoh, Communications Coordinator at Justice Action Center. “The freedom to move should no longer be neglected in the name of deterrence and punitive policies. Instead of digging in their heels on an appeal, President Biden should meet with direct service groups that are doing the work of welcoming to determine what is actually needed on the border and build more sustainable and safe pathways.”


"We welcome the federal court's decision to block the Biden Administration's asylum rule which put significant limitations on access to asylum," said Joan Rosenhauer, President of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. "Continued restrictions on asylum only put more lives in danger and fail to meet the needs of people seeking refuge. With this ruling, we encourage the Biden Administration to move forward with solutions that welcome asylum seekers and promote their rights, dignity, and overall well being."


“Franciscan Action Network welcomes the court’s ruling which recognizes the human and legal right of people to apply for asylum in this country,” said Sister Marie Lucey, Associate Director of FAN. “We urge the Biden administration to honor this right and refrain from appealing the court’s decision. Instead, the administration must direct attention and resources to create safe, orderly, humane processes for vulnerable people to exercise their right to seek asylum. Act in accord with the moral values you proclaim, we say to the Biden administration. As people of faith, we Franciscans pray that you make right decisions.”


“We welcome this ruling, one which should not come as a surprise,” said Danilo Zak, Acting Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service.” The Biden administration’s asylum ban drew directly from Trump-era restrictions that were also struck down time and again for violating the Refugee Act. In the just the just over two months that the ban has been in place, it has caused immeasurable harm to asylum seekers and their families. The law is extremely clear: Asylum seekers have the right to make their case for protection no matter where or how they enter the U.S. This ruling out of California represents an opportunity for the administration to put a stop to the harmful and immoral restrictions it has inflicted on those seeking safety, and turn towards more welcoming and effective solutions at the border.”


“As the International Mayan League, we welcome the ruling blocking the Asylum Ban. However, for far too long the U.S. government has been implementing deterrence policies that purposely place vulnerable people in harm's way as a means of preventing them from entering the U.S. and accessing their rights as migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees”, said Lorena Brady, Policy and Program Manager. “For Indigenous Peoples, the full scope of the human rights violations they endure as a result of the asylum ban and other inhumane policies has not been adequately documented or acknowledged. We again call for the Administration to work with Indigenous Peoples to develop solutions that protect and safeguard the human right to seek asylum and all human rights for asylum seekers.”


“The federal court’s decision validates what’s been evident for months – that the Biden administration’s attacks on the U.S. asylum system are unlawful and immoral,” said Kica Matos, President of the National Immigration Law Center. “Seeking safety on U.S. soil is a legal and human right, and the Biden administration should never have imposed these cruel restrictions in the first place. The Biden administration must abandon its inhumane and illegal efforts to obstruct asylum access and instead reaffirm the President’s repeated promises to welcome people seeking safety with dignity.”


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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org


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