Another Anti-Black Attack on Asylum From the Biden Administration

For Immediate Release 

May 16, 2024

Contact: Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe, 

UndocuBlack Network (UBN), Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP), and Afri-Kana Denounces Yet Another Anti-Black Attack on Asylum from the Biden Administration

Washington DC– The Department of Homeland Security announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The proposed rule gives asylum officers the discretionary authority to deny the right to asylum for some asylum seekers long before they present their cases to an immigration judge. These denials would be based on several factors that should only be considered under current law once an asylum seeker has a full hearing before an immigration judge. 

The UndocuBlack Network (UBN), Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP), and Afri-Kana are once again disappointed in the Administration’s choice to gut the right to seek asylum rather than protect it. Similar to the 2023 Asylum Ban, this new proposal by the Biden Administration will disproportionately harm Black migrants. The proposal puts more weight on initial screening interviews, which occur when people are at their most vulnerable, having just ended a dangerous journey to the U.S., detained, and often without legal representation. The discrimination Black immigrants face during their immigration process has been well-documented, including language access, isolation from other detained individuals, and medical neglect. These policies and decisions by the Biden administration, which also includes deporting Haitian Nationals to Haiti, as recent as today, where a “cataclysmic” situation is unfolding, continue to cement his discriminatory legacy. 

Patrice Lawrence, Executive Director of the UndocuBlack Network, said, “What we are seeing along the U.S.-Mexico border is cruelty from the Biden-Harris Administration as they continue Trump-era policies. From my recent visit to Tijuana, Black migrants are still having to wait several months to get an appointment, which would then allow them to present their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is not a hair appointment. It is an urgent appointment for your future. It is a legal and human right. This proposed rule will undeniably create another barrier to asylum seekers requesting protection, and Black immigrants, as always, will bear most of the burden. Although the NPRM does not explicitly mention race, the implementation and enforcement of these new regulations will have a disparate impact on Black immigrants due to underlying racial biases within the immigration system and society at large. Instead of these cruel policies, the Biden administration must take a humane approach to immigration policy and welcome those seeking safety, which must include designating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and extending and redesignating TPS for Haiti, among others.” 

Adama Ba, Migrant Resettlement Manager for AfriKana, said, “In reflecting on my work with migrants, especially those who are Black, I emphasize the profound impact of their stories and the immense challenges they face, including anti-Blackness. A higher standard for credible fear interviews would be harmful, not to wear asylum cases, but because the time in which the credible fear interviews are conducted already finds Black migrants in a vulnerable and traumatized state due to systemic discrimination and other harms they’ve experienced en route to the United States. I’ve worked with individuals who’ve had to bury their siblings on their journey to seek refuge in the U.S., under such grief and anguish, only the most human and welcoming standard of questioning should be employed.”

Carolyn Tran, Executive Director of Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP), said, “When will the Biden-Harris administration learn that bending to the Trump era approach to our immigration system and the U.S.-Mexico border is a grave injustice to racial equity, civil rights, and international law? As multiple genocides and conflicts force communities, disproportionately from Black majority, Muslim, and Arab/Middle Eastern countries, to be displaced and flee for safety to the United States, our policies should reflect the values this Administration claims to stand for while dismantling the institutionalized racism inherent in our immigration system. It is clear that our leaders’ priorities are not with the 68% of Americans who see immigration as a good thing but instead with those who see immigrant lives as disposable and not deserving of protection, compassion, or safety. We are against allowing asylum officers to apply statutory bars to asylum at the initial fear screenings. It would give asylum officers unprecedented decision-making authority on an asylum seeker’s case that is currently under the decision of an immigration judge. As always, our communities will continue to educate, organize, and collectively speak out against this proposed rule.”   

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