Now is the Time to Protect Asylum, Humanitarian Parole, and Due Process

Legislators should reject immigration policies that harm families and communities
Shayna Kessler Associate Director for Advocacy // Erica Bryant Associate Director of Writing
Jan 18, 2024

In an attempt to pass federal supplemental budget measures, lawmakers in Congress have been seriously considering making harsh, permanent changes to immigration law behind closed doors. These proposals reduce immigrants to bargaining chips and would threaten families, communities, and our nation’s stated values of due process and justice for all.

These proposed changes are not only harmful, but also deeply unpopular. People in the United States strongly support protections for people fleeing persecution and torture. In fact, 72 percent of Americans believe that accepting civilian refugees trying to escape violence and war should be an important goal for the country.

Right now, lawmakers are working to reach an agreement before Friday, when the deadline to fund the government passes. Contact your federal legislators today and tell them to protect the rights of immigrants and reject these six harmful policies.

Rapidly expelling people arriving at the southern border without asylum screenings or due process

Under both U.S. and international law, people facing danger in their home countries currently have the right to seek safety in other nations and request asylum. Despite this, lawmakers are considering giving the president authority to indefinitely suspend immigration for virtually any reason and rapidly deport people at the southern border without considering their asylum claims. This resurrection of policies akin to Title 42, which was used to expel migrants 3 million times during the COVID-19 pandemic, will result in devastation and chaos—without addressing the factors that drive people to seek asylum.

Imposing a transit ban

One proposal lawmakers are considering would prevent people arriving at the southern border from accessing their legal right to seek asylum unless they can prove they have already been denied asylum in the countries they had traveled through to arrive in the United States. Yet violence, homophobia, and anti-Black racism prevent many countries in the Western Hemisphere from offering spaces of safety for many migrants. This policy also denies fair access to asylum to people in financial need, including those who must walk to the United States because they cannot afford to buy an airplane ticket.

Increasing restrictions on asylum

Some of the proposed amendments to asylum regulations effectively ensure that many people fleeing persecution and torture could not meaningfully present their claims for asylum. For example, when a person arrives at the border to request aid, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducts an interview to determine if a person has a “credible fear” of persecution or torture in their homeland due to their race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion that would make them eligible for asylum. Failing to meet DHS’s credible fear standard can result in deportation.

But lawmakers are now considering changes to this standard that would make passing the interview more difficult. These changes under consideration include unnecessary caps on asylum grants that would force thousands of asylum seekers to wait in inhumane and dangerous conditions in Mexico. Lawmakers must reject these changes, which would further endanger the lives of people seeking safety.

Rapidly deporting people without due process

Expanding the government’s power to detain and deport immigrants without giving them a fair chance to defend themselves in court would threaten immigrant community members nationwide, including 16.7 million people in mixed-immigration-status families, who would be at risk of being separated from their family members.

This policy change, known as expedited removal, would also incentivize racial profiling by immigration authorities, who would be empowered to ask people who they believe look foreign to prove their immigration status on the spot.

Expanding mandatory detention and surveillance of immigrants

Decades of research show that detaining people in prison-like conditions is not necessary to ensure they attend immigration court proceedings. Yet lawmakers are considering policy changes to require the detention and electronic monitoring of more people facing deportation, including children and families. Proposals to expand the categories of immigrants subject to mandatory detention would subject more people to unsafe and inhumane detention conditions, as has been seen in the past. It would also result in family separation and widespread suffering.

Ending humanitarian parole

Humanitarian parole has been used by both Democratic and Republican administrations to allow people to enter the United States temporarily to work and care for their families when there are “urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons.” Humanitarian parole provides protection for people most in need, and it helps drive migrants to safer ports of entry and away from dangerous unauthorized border crossings. Eliminating or restricting parole authority would increase pressure on the border and require expanding the costly and cruel immigration detention system.

Rather than making our outdated immigration system even more dysfunctional and cruel, Congress and the White House must invest in building capacity and social services so that all people going through the system can exercise their legal right to apply for asylum. Investments in federally funded legal representation and court capacity can help ease immigration court backlogs. Additionally, the federal government must create and expand legal pathways to permanent settlement in the United States.

The cruel and immoral policies currently under consideration in Washington would destabilize the lives of millions of immigrants and their families. Lawmakers must turn towards policies and investments that protect those who are endangered, guarantee due process, and build an immigration system that respects the humanity of all people.

Contact your federal legislators today
and tell them to protect immigrants’ rights.