Human Rights Organizations Urge Biden Administration to Withdraw Proposed Regulations that Would Effectively Ban Black Asylum Seekers

Washington, D.C., March 28, 2023Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, alongside the Black Immigrant Bail Fund, Cameroon Advocacy Network, and Haitian Bridge Alliance, strongly opposes a new regulatory framework that would all but ban asylum for Black asylum seekers.

On March 27, 2023, the human rights organizations submitted a public comment to the Biden administration’s plan to drastically restrict access to the human right to apply for asylum. Proposed regulations would deny protection to individuals fleeing persecution unless they use a glitch-prone smartphone application to schedule an appointment at the U.S. border or are denied asylum in another country through which they previously traveled. Taken together, the proposed regulations would deny protection for virtually all Black asylum seekers, the majority of whom undertake a perilous journey through multiple countries to reach the United States.

“If the Biden Administration is serious about its commitment to racial equity, it must withdraw the proposed regulations restricting access to asylum,” said Anthony Enriquez, Vice President of U.S. Advocacy and Litigation. “The new regulatory framework will have a devastating effect on asylum claims from Black people by forcing them to use a smartphone application that rejects photos of individuals with darker skin tones, making it impossible to secure an appointment at the U.S. border. It also conditions U.S. asylum eligibility on first applying for asylum in a country in Latin America, the most violent region in the world, where victims of violence are majority Afro-descendents.”

“I know firsthand the life-changing impact asylum can have because I won my own case three years ago,” said Daniel Tse, a joint legal fellow of Robert F. Kennedy and Haitian Bridge Alliance and co-founder of the Cameroon Advocacy Network. “It breaks my heart to think that under the proposed regulations, I or my community members could have been denied the opportunity to seek legal protection, find safety, reunite with family, and rebuild our lives. Asylum seekers denied legal protection and forced to return to their home countries face extreme violence, persecution, and abuse. The proposed regulations would be devastating for Black asylum seekers, who already face tremendous barriers in their pursuit of safety and justice. I urge the Biden administration to prioritize the human rights of all individuals and withdraw these harmful regulations.”

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, RFK Human Rights advocates for key human rights issues, championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.

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