Looking Beyond Legal Complexities: A Discussion with USCRI Mexico Staff on the Impact of Changes to U.S. Border Policy on Asylum Seekers

By USCRI June 18, 2024

Over the past two years, the Biden administration has made considerable changes to asylum and migrant processing at the southern U.S. border. Most recently, President Biden issued a Proclamation on “Securing the Border,” which effectively closed the U.S.-Mexico border to asylum seekers and other migrants.

Along with the Proclamation, the Administration announced an interim final rule (IFR) to operationalize the executive action. Unless they meet an exception to the policy, noncitizens cannot enter the United States across the southern border. The policy went into effect June 5, 2024, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time. This action severely restricts access to the asylum system. The limitations will not be removed until 14 days after the seven-day average of “encounters[1]” falls below 1,500, which has only occurred 42 percent of the time over the past 24 years, making it extremely difficult to rescind.

In addition to administrative rules, other smaller but still impactful internal practice guidance has been issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As a result of the Proclamation, rules, and guidance the asylum system has been stripped of its capacity to offer meaningful protection to those seeking safety. USCRI has submitted formal comments to the U.S. Government warning about the impacts of the various rules, released statements condemning the different administrative actions, and published reports analyzing the legal and humanitarian implications of the policies. This policy brief aims to look beyond the legal complexities and focus on the impact that these policies have on children, families, and communities.

Policy analyst Aaron Nodjomian-Escajeda spoke with USCRI’s U.S.-Mexico border program coordinator Tomás Humberto Ochoa Ritchie to better understand what is happening on the Mexico side of the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of the continual changes to U.S. border policy. Ochoa oversees the Know Your Rights presentations that USCRI attorneys give to asylum seekers and migrants in shelters in Tijuana, Mexico. He also oversees the USCRI Mexico legal team, which provides pro bono legal representation to those seeking international protection in Mexico.

Click here to read the full brief.

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 inquiries, please contact: [email protected]

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