Administration’s attempt to bar some people from seeking asylum is based on fear, not facts

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — ­­Today’s presidential proclamation coupled with the publication of an interim final rule will make it more difficult for those fleeing violence and other harm to seek asylum in the United States. 

Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., said the effort “shows the administration will even try to get around federal law in pursuit of its cynical immigration agenda.”

The rule changes will bar those who cross the southern border between ports of entry from asylum eligibility, in violation of federal law and international obligations. 

“The government’s own statistics reflect a glaring lack of evidence that there is anything remotely resembling a 'crisis' at our borders,” Atkinson said. In fact, despite dramatic increases in Border Patrol staffing and other new security measures, the number of people apprehended at the border recently is at a 40-year low.

Yet the administration has manufactured a “crisis” to mask its goal of reducing legal immigration and blocking admission to the United States to those most in need of the protections of this country, Atkinson added.

“This is a betrayal of the values on which this nation has thrived,” Atkinson said. “The Catholic teachings that inform CLINIC's work speak of welcome and safeguarding human dignity. That's what we expect of our country.”  

Litigation has already been filed in federal court to challenge these changes to existing law and to prevent  further harm  to  asylum seekers. Many people who fled violence in Central America cross the border after being turned away at U.S. ports of entry. They are not part of a border “crisis,” they are simply seeking safety, Atkinson said.

U.S. immigration law allows anyone in the country to apply for asylum without regard to how they entered the country. Asylum is a legal and viable system to protect vulnerable immigrants from being returned to countries where they would face persecution or torture.

CLINIC’s network will continue to provide legal guidance to asylum-seekers through our affiliates around the country.

Reporters: To interview one of CLINIC’s asylum law experts, contact Patricia Zapor, communications director, at 301-565-4830.