Following last month’s visit of civil rights, human rights and immigrants’ rights organizations to Matamoros and Reynosa, Mexico and the Texas Rio Grande Valley, the delegation jointly released a report, “LIVES AT RISK: Barriers and Harms As Biden Asylum Ban Takes Effect.”
The report details the abysmal conditions, grave harms and barriers to protection suffered by people who are now waiting to seek asylum as the Biden administration begins implementation of its new asylum ban.
From May 10-May 12, a delegation of human, civil, and immigrants rights leaders led by the Haitian Bridge Alliance visited the Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas to bear witness to the end of the Title 42 policy and the implementation of punitive policies along the border, including the Biden administration’s new asylum ban.
In Matamoros and Reynosa, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas, the delegation saw firsthand the difficulties that people seeking asylum face when attempting to secure appointments at U.S. ports of entry via the CBP One app; the barriers some face waiting and trying to seek asylum at ports of entry without a CBP One appointment; the squalid and inhumane living conditions of migrants at the border; and the violence and anti-Black racism that people seeking asylum endure while waiting in Mexico.
The delegation members spoke to hundreds of people waiting to seek asylum. It was clear that they wanted to follow the U.S. process to seek asylum at ports of entry but face major impediments.
These barriers include:
- The lack of critical information about the highly complex U.S. immigration process;
- The lack of smartphones, internet, language access, and technical assistance to use the CBP One app
- The unduly limited number of CBP One appointments
- U.S. refusals to process many people waiting without appointments to request protection at ports of entry
- Mexican government intervention to limit or prevent asylum seekers from waiting in line to seek U.S protection at ports of entry;
- The absence of a transparent and non-discriminatory process for asylum seekers without appointments to request protection at ports of entry as required by U.S. refugee law;
- The horrific human rights abuses suffered and risked while left waiting in highly dangerous areas of Mexico;
- The unsanitary, unsafe and inhumane conditions in many of the encampments and areas where asylum seekers are at risk as they wait to try to follow processes to seek asylum at U.S. ports of entry.
U.S. officials appear to be touting their use of what they frame, in a dehumanizing approach, as the “stick” or “consequences” of the asylum ban as the reason for reduced crossings after the end of Title 42. Yet from the aid workers, faith visitors, legal services providers, and countless people seeking asylum we spoke with, it was clear there was little to no knowledge of the new asylum ban. Instead, people seeking asylum were struggling to comprehend the process of how to seek protection at ports of entry.
Key findings of the delegation’s report include:
People seeking asylum continue to be turned away from ports of entry; People seeking asylum are struggling to secure limited CBP One appointments; Haitian and Black people seeking asylum are targets of anti-Black discrimination and violence; Families continue to be separated; The Biden administration’s new asylum ban, like Title 42 and Remain in Mexico, is stranding many asylum-seeking people in dangerous places where they are targets of violence and kidnappings.
The report also found that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are living in squalid conditions without access to basic services and that there is a lack of accessible information about the asylum ban. There is a tremendous lack of governmental and international support for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The delegation reiterates its call for the Biden administration to uphold the legal right to seek asylum and due process, rescind its new asylum ban, maximize access to asylum at ports of entry and welcome people with dignity and respect. Many of our organizations have provided detailed recommendations to the Biden administration.
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