From SDRRN Steering Committee: Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services, Jewish Family Service of San Diego; Norma Chávez-Peterson, executive director, ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties; David Garcias, former president, Local 221 SEIU; and Alejandra Garcias, Dreamer Center project specialist, Southwestern College

The San Diego Rapid Response Network has proven for the last 4-plus years that welcoming people seeking asylum into our country is possible with humanity and dignity. We condemn the Biden Administration’s proposal today to significantly restrict asylum into the U.S., including requiring migrants to ask for protection in the countries they are traveling through.

While on the campaign trail, President Biden promised to fix our nation’s broken immigration system and restore humanity to our asylum process. What the Administration has announced today is essentially an asylum ban – a reprehensible step backwards.

For the last 2.5 years, the administration’s actions, including this latest policy, have moved our country further away from the U.S.’s longstanding tradition of welcoming people seeking safety and protection. We strongly urge that the Administration immediately withdraw this proposal.

The reality is simple:

  • This policy effectively prohibits most asylum seekers from exercising their right to seek safety in the U.S., and will force many people to remain in situations that could endanger their lives. These are families and individuals fleeing persecution and violence. They deserve safety, not further harm.
  • Assisting more than 125,000 asylum seekers since October 2018, SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services reports that 98% of migrants have family or loved ones in the U.S. that they are traveling to. Requiring them to request protection elsewhere does not allow for these reunifications, and may separate families further.
  • SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services prioritizes working with the most vulnerable asylum seekers, including families, pregnant people, those with medical conditions and/or LGBTQ+. This new policy would not make exceptions for people who at the greatest risk and prevents them from accessing safety altogether.
  • We have repeatedly provided concrete solutions. Just today, SDRRN released more evidence in a report in coordination with the Women’s Refugee Commission proving that humane, viable and cost-effective processes to welcome people seeking asylum in the U.S. are possible, as well as providing recommendations for how the federal government can use the model in San Diego nationally.
  • This policy is setting a harmful precedent that could be extremely hard to undo and a potentially long-lasting impact.

The only way our immigration system can be repaired is through essential collaboration and communication between all levels of government and other partner organizations to ensure no one stands alone in our community. Biden’s proposed actions leave individuals and families at our border seeking protection when they are at their most vulnerable. Asylum seekers are not the enemy; our broken immigration system is.