ST. PAUL, Minn. and TUCSON, Ariz. — The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) today issued this statement in response to yet another change in rules governing access to asylum at the U.S. Southern border.
Last night, President Trump’s dreadful Title 42 expulsion policy finally expired. As soon as it did, President Biden’s dreadful new asylum rule took effect.
The Biden administration’s rule makes refugees largely ineligible for asylum based on how they entered the United States, and whether they applied for protection in a country they passed through along the way. Specifically, with narrow exception, asylum seekers must now come to an official port of entry with a prescheduled appointment using a mobile app called “CBPOne.” If they arrive without a CBPOne-scheduled appointment, they must prove that they applied for, and were denied, protection in a country through which they transited on their journey to the United States.
Like the Title 42 policy, these new restrictions are not only inhumane, but also violate both domestic and international law, including core aspects of the 1951 International Convention on Refugees.
“The restrictions on asylum in President Biden’s newly announced policies are little more than Title 42 by any other name. The requirement that asylum seekers must now download the CBPOne mobile application to a phone and preschedule an asylum claim appointment reveals a serious lack of understanding of the situation asylum seekers face. Every day, people in desperate situations must now play a game of digital lottery with a partially operating app, hoping against hope that they will get to plead their case for an escape from the unsafe conditions in their own countries, and the unsafe conditions in the Mexican border towns where they have been made to wait,” said Zuryanette Reyes Borrero, CVT bilingual case manager.
“The most vulnerable asylum seekers will be the most disenfranchised by an interview request that does not account for nuance or circumstances at the time of allocating the few appointment slots available each day. Among those will be many torture survivors, who are fleeing abuse only to encounter, at best, indifference disguised under the name of fairness of opportunities. Our border communities will be made, once again, to carry the logistical and moral strain of the federal government’s inaction on immigration reform.
“CVT calls on the U.S. government to reconsider this latest attack on asylum and to recommit to building a just, humane and trauma-informed system that treats all who search for refuge with dignity and respect,” she added.
Zuryanette Reyes Borrero is a bilingual case manager in Proyecto Mariposa, CVT’s project in Tucson, Ariz., where we extend psychosocial support and case management to asylum seekers as they journey to their final destinations in the United States. CVT has urged the Biden administration to design a trauma-informed asylum system. For details, read our report and five steps to transforming the asylum process.
The Center for Victims of Torture is a nonprofit organization with offices in Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, United States and additional project sites around the world. Visit www.cvt.org