2| Banning people from seeking asylum is a cruel and misguided response to a problem made worse by decades of Congressional inaction and failures to build legal migration pathways
The Biden Administration argues that new limitations on the asylum process would encourage individuals to utilize the few remaining legal immigration channels rather than traveling to the southern border without authorization. However, the new proposed ban would effectively close off all but the most limited, restrictive ways in which people could access safety via legal pathways, which would do nothing to reduce or streamline the chaos of the existing system, and would, in fact, greatly exacerbate it.
The increased number of individuals arriving at the southern border reflects how migration trends have changed significantly over the past decade, with an increasing number of people exercising their right to apply for asylum. In 2012, roughly 3,500 defensive asylum claims were filed each month.6 In 2022, an average of 5,000 asylum claims were filed weekly. The total number of asylum claims filed in 2022 was more than 256,000, a fivefold increase from just a decade earlier.7
The increase in asylum filings reflects the fact that conditions in many countries, including many in the Americas and the broader Western Hemisphere, have worsened dramatically over the last decade, forcing people to flee their homes and to seek refuge in other nearby countries, including the U.S. Economic strife, political instability, crime and violence, security threats, natural disasters—all these “push factors” have contributed to significant increases in the number of people seeking safety in the U.S. from other countries.
Unfortunately, for many individuals living in the Western Hemisphere, asylum is the only legal avenue available for them to seek relief in the U.S., and closing it off would leave them with absolutely nowhere else to turn. Even if they qualify for existing channels for family reunification or employment, these pathways are few and limited, and have become severely restricted by backlogs over the past decade.
Ultimately, the responsibility falls on Congress to create a humane, orderly, and functional system to deal with the reality of people who are forced to flee their home countries to seek safety elsewhere. However, Congress has failed to meaningfully update the immigration system for nearly 40 years.