New York, NY, June 26, 2023 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and six partner agencies (Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados México, Refugee Health Alliance, Kino Border Initiative, Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Espacio Migrante, and Immigrant Defenders Law Center) released a new report, Limits on Access to Asylum After Title 42: One Month of Monitoring U.S.-Mexico Border Ports of Entry, sharing concerning observations from in-person monitoring at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Observations were collected between May 11 and June 12, following the end of Title 42 and the subsequent implementation of the new “asylum ban” rule. This new regulation renders most asylum-seekers ineligible for asylum, unless they use the CBP One smartphone app to schedule one of the limited number of appointments, or have sought and been denied asylum in a country of transit with very few exceptions.
The monitors’ key findings include additional challenges and barriers for people seeking asylum, beyond the restrictions imposed by the new “asylum ban” regulation, including:
- While a limited number of asylum requests by individuals and families without prescheduled appointments were processed at most of the monitored U.S. ports of entry, practices by U.S. and Mexican authorities restricted asylum seekers without CBP One appointments from physically reaching U.S. ports of entry to make protection requests. Media reports and researchers have highlighted accessibility challenges with the CBP One app that may exclude some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers, including Black migrants, indigenous language speakers, and people lacking access to smartphones and strong Wi-Fi signals.
- Limited processing or “metering” of asylum seekers without CBP One appointments resulted in lines, waitlists, and informal encampments at or near the monitored ports of entry in Mexico, even as the number of CBP One appointments increased at the start of June 2023.Families and adults were observed living in difficult humanitarian circumstances with unmet basic needs, exposed to potentially dangerous conditions, and at risk of trafficking and exploitation.
- People waiting to request asylum at U.S. ports of entry lacked adequate and accurate information. Many did not appear to understand the potential legal consequences of the recently implemented “asylum ban” rule that renders most people seeking international protection without a CBP One appointment, even if at a port of entry, ineligible for asylum.
The working group urges the U.S. government to: fully restore access to asylum; surge agency staff (not troops) and other resources to ports of entry; and rescind the asylum ban that counterproductively punishes asylum seekers. U.S. government reports have repeatedly found that limiting asylum at ports of entry leads individuals, who would otherwise have sought or who tried to seek protection at a port, to instead make dangerous, irregular border crossings in their desperate need for protection. Implementing these and other recommendations are key to establishing a safe, humane, and orderly process at ports of entry.