Statement: African Communities Together Opposes Biden Administration’s Proposed Asylum Rule


WASHINGTON, D.C.-- African Communities Together is disappointed by the Biden administration’s recently published proposed rule and its continued attempts at restricting asylum access at our border. This time, the administration is directly attacking asylum seekers’ fundamental right to due process.The proposed rule, announced on May 9, 2024, would allow certain mandatory bars to asylum to be determined not by immigration judges, but by asylum officers during initial fear screenings, often happening days upon arriving to the United States. 

This rule puts power in the hands of asylum officers, rather than judges, to summarily deny an asylum case in the initial screening interview if they believe the asylum seeker has persecuted others or committed a serious crime outside the U.S. or poses a threat to national security.  These initial fear screenings were not intended for, and should not be used to, make such complex determinations about whether someone is barred from asylum. Asylum seekers should be able to make their case in front of an immigration judge with the support of counsel.  Furthermore, we have seen examples of people who have been accused of serious crimes based on false information. Only after having the opportunity to mount an adequate defense before an immigration judge were they able to win their asylum cases.  Had this rule been in place, these individuals would have erroneously been denied asylum and returned to their persecution.  Such consequences are unconscionable.

With the increasing number of African migrants arriving at the border to seek asylum, we are extremely concerned that this proposed rule will disproportionately impact those asylum seekers. In addition to the bias and discrimination faced by Black migrants and Muslim migrants navigating the asylum system, the lack of sufficient language access at the border makes African migrants even more susceptible to harm caused by this misguided rule.

This proposed rule must be withdrawn and the administration should instead focus on smart, humane solutions that allow families and individuals to seek asylum and access safety with due process.