More Barriers to Asylum Access

By USCRI May 22, 2024

Early this month, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways (CLP) rule, known as the asylum ban, the Biden administration announced actions to again reduce access to asylum in the United States.

On May 13, 2024, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Application of Certain Mandatory Bars in Fear Screenings. If finalized, the rule would allow Asylum Officers to apply certain bars to asylum eligibility earlier in the application process, specifically during initial fear screenings. Congress originally intended initial fear screenings to act as a lower standard for admission into the full asylum process. Currently, the bars are only considered once an asylum seeker presents their case in front of an immigration judge. However, the NPRM would make the initial screenings harder for certain individuals to overcome, preventing them from ever receiving a full hearing in immigration court.

The Administration simultaneously announced revised guidance to Asylum Officers to ensure that asylum seekers demonstrate that the threat of persecution would remain even if they were to relocate within the country of feared persecution. If unable to show that the threat would remain, the asylum seeker would be deported to a different part of the country where they feared persecution.

On the same day, the Administration also published policy guidance on the use of classified information in fear screenings. The new guidance removes necessary safeguards and allows immigration adjudicators to use classified information against people in immigration proceedings. The use of classified information will create a less transparent asylum process and likely result in asylum seekers not knowing the reason for denials.

“The immigration system is already difficult to navigate,” said Eskinder Negash, USCRI President and CEO. “The proposed changes and interrelated policies make it much more difficult for individuals without legal counsel and language access to successfully claim asylum.”

The systematic stripping of access to humanitarian protection runs counter to our nation’s long-standing tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution and upholding our domestic and international obligations relating to refugees and human rights. By limiting humanitarian protection, we not only betray our values but also undermine our credibility as a global leader in promoting human rights and dignity. USCRI strongly calls on the Biden administration to act as a leader in humanitarian protection.


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.

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