AILA Public Statements

AILA Condemns Biden Administration’s Push to Use “Transit Ban” Against Vulnerable Asylum Seekers

2/21/23 AILA Doc. No. 23022100. Admissions & Border, Asylum

Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) rejected a new regulation issued today by the Biden Administration that seeks to establish a “transit ban” against vulnerable asylum seekers as unworkable and a violation of U.S. asylum law. AILA President Jeremy McKinney and Executive Director Benjamin Johnson wrote directly to President Biden last month urging him to reconsider and reverse course on this decision. In the letter, they pointed to President Biden’s promise made during his presidential campaign to safeguard America’s commitment to asylum protection.

Jeremy McKinney stated: “AILA condemns this ban against vulnerable asylum seekers which is the most restrictive measure by President Biden so far. This ban is unnecessary. Solutions exist to ease the strain at the Southern Border without resorting to tactics undermining our values. This ban is illegal; federal law requires the federal government to ensure that people fleeing persecution have a fair and meaningful chance to claim asylum. This ban is dangerous: the countries through which people are fleeing are not ‘safe third countries’ by any stretch of the imagination, according to the U.S. State Department’s own reporting. A transit ban will undoubtedly lead to harm and even the deaths of men, women, and children. For decades, the United States has been a global leader in humanitarian protection. We are simply better than this.”

Ben Johnson added, “This regulation is a clear violation of the rights of migrants under U.S. law to seek protection from persecution, regardless of how they enter the United States. The Biden Administration claims asylum will still be available under this regulation, but the so-called ’rebuttable presumptions’ they propose will not provide sufficient opportunity for people in dire need to apply. It is absurd to expect asylum applicants who rarely have legal assistance to be able to rebut the presumptive bar set by this new rule and qualify for asylum protection. AILA and its members urge the Administration to halt this extremely restrictive effort immediately and instead turn to commonsense, safe, orderly, and humane options to ensure our country lives up to its values.”