Is the Biden Administration Doomed to Repeat the Mistakes of his Predecessors’ Treatment of Refugees?

By USCRI May 10, 2023

Less than two days before going into effect, a new rule that places conditions on asylum eligibility for individuals who circumvent “lawful pathways” was finalized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The rule presumes those who present themselves at the southern border and adjacent coastal areas are ineligible for asylum unless they 1) were granted prior permission to come to the United States via a DHS-approved parole process, 2) were able to make an appointment to present themselves at the border using the smartphone app CBP One, or 3) previously sought asylum in a country or countries through which they traveled and were denied. This rule will go into effect once the Title 42 public health order is lifted on Thursday, May 11, at 11:59pm ET.

“Legal pathways for protection and immigration are always welcome, but they should never be paired with conditions on asylum,” said USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash. “History serves to remind us that protections for asylum seekers have grown out of the grave errors of America’s past.”

Since the 1970s, the U.S. government has used the base at Guantanamo Bay to house migrants who are interdicted at sea. The base’s Migrant Operations Center, which most notably held Cuban and Haitian asylum seekers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has been utilized intermittently since that time. Amidst the humanitarian outcry against the disparate treatment of asylum-seeking Haitians in Guantanamo Bay, a federal district court determined in 1993 that they were deprived of due process by being denied the opportunity to access adequate legal representation and medical care.

USCRI denounces the Biden administration’s continued efforts to place conditions on and limit access to asylum by the manner of entry and petition for protection. Such short-sighted policies will have lasting effects and will negatively influence how other countries treat asylum seekers and refugees. Instead, USCRI calls on the administration to allow for due process for all asylum seekers regardless of the manner of entry, in accordance with its obligations under international treaties and domestic law. “Only time will tell if the actions of this administration will result in a blight similar to Guantanamo,” said Negash.


USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

For press inquiries, please contact: policy@uscrimail.org

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