HIAS Opposes New Policies That Restrict Asylum

SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS opposes proposed policies introduced by the Biden Administration that would further restrict the rights of people who are seeking safety at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The changes indicated in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), titled Application of Certain Mandatory Bars in Fear Screenings and issued on Thursday, would allow immigration officials to bar certain individuals from asylum during their initial credible fear interview, denying them access to the full asylum process. The credible fear interview exists to ensure that our government does not quickly deport people who are eligible for a fair asylum process. It happens in the first few hours and days of arrival, when people have little or no access to legal support and are most vulnerable and exhausted from their journeys.

Our laws already screen individuals to determine if they pose a serious national security or public safety threat and prevent them from receiving the benefits of asylum protection, after due process. The proposed changes would deny that due process, and significantly increase the risk of wrongfully returning people to the danger that they were fleeing.

“We are disappointed that the administration is proposing yet another policy that would further restrict access to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border,” said HIAS CEO and President Mark Hetfield. “This will not prevent people from coming. It will just subject them to a rapid and irresponsible process that could cause additional harm, abuse, and danger.”

The announcement falls almost exactly one year after the harmful Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule began, which effectively created an asylum ban at the border. “HIAS opposes these new changes,” said Hetfield. “We are alarmed that the administration seems to be reacting to political pressures rather than implementing solutions that address the real challenges at the border.”

“The further degradation of protections and due process in the asylum system will undoubtedly lead to the U.S. government returning individuals to territories where they face violence and harm. There are no quick fixes to the problem at the border. Congress and the administration need to reform and invest so that our country has an efficient asylum system that protects people who need it and returns people who don’t. Instead, the administration is trying to take a due process short cut, and bounce people back to danger. And Congress entirely abdicated its responsibility to border security long ago, not having passed any comprehensive immigration reform bill since 1986.” 

HIAS calls on the administration to rescind the NPRM and encourages individuals to submit comments through the federal register to express their concerns.

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