URGENT: Don’t Let President Biden Ban Asylum

The deadline to take this action has passed.

The Biden administration is accepting comments from the public about its proposed rule to bring back a Trump-era asylum ban. The proposed rule would deny protection to many refugees, including LGBTQ and HIV-positive people.

Essentially, no matter how compelling someone’s claim, the rule presumes that they are not eligible for asylum unless they (1) apply for asylum in another country before coming to the southern border, or (2) enter at an official port of entry with a previously scheduled appointment through a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) mobile application. People fleeing for their lives who have no safe country to ask for help, and who cannot wait for a mobile app border appointment, will likely be denied asylum.

The rule will almost certainly result in the senseless death of LGBTQ refugees, most of whom would otherwise find safety through asylum in the United States.

Submit a comment by March 27th telling the Biden administration how this policy will hurt LGBTQ and HIV-positive asylum seekers. You don’t have to be an expert to submit a comment, your comment can be short and simple!

How to submit a comment:

  1. Start with the comments template below as the basis for writing your own.
  2. Revise and rewrite the comments template to highlight your own concerns. Include any experiences, perspectives, and values that inform your opinions. The government will only respond to unique comments, so it’s important to put your objections into your own words.
  3. Click the button below to access the government portal and follow the instructions on the site to submit your comments. You can type or paste them into the comment box, or you can submit them as an attached document.

Comment Template:

 (If applicable, explain the nature of your personal and/or professional experience and how it informs your opinion. But remember, you don’t have to be an expert to tell the administration that you care about LGBTQ/H refugees and want to ensure that the U.S. protects them!)

I adamantly oppose the proposed rule and demand that it be withdrawn. The rule would ban many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV positive (LGBTQ/H) refugees from asylum protection based on their manner of entry into the United States and transit through other countries. Because of the rule, LGBTQ/H asylum seekers will be forced back to unsafe countries or stranded in Mexico – both options are inherently dangerous and put the lives of LGBTQ/H asylum seekers at great risk.

(Some of the reasons the rule is harmful to LGBTQ/H asylum seekers that you might want to add in your own words:)

The rule requires LGBTQ/H asylum seekers to apply for asylum in unsafe transit countries. If someone does not apply for asylum on their way to the U.S., they may be deemed ineligible for asylum. In reality, applying for asylum in a transit country is simply not an option. Most common transit countries (such as Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) have long, documented histories of severe violence and torture of LGBTQ/H people. The governments of these countries fail to protect LGBTQ/H people from egregious abuses and frequently engage in them. As such, the rule forces LGBTQ/H people to seek protection in places that cannot give it, endangering their lives in the process.

The rule punishes vulnerable refugees who cannot access certain technology to schedule an appointment before presenting at the border. The rule states that the asylum ban will not apply to people who make an appointment at a U.S.-Mexico port of entry through a CBP One Mobile Application. However, many people cannot get an appointment through the notoriously glitchy and often inaccessible app. Furthermore, the appointments fill up quickly, sometimes within seconds. Many people also cannot use the app due to technological, language, educational, or other barriers. For example, refugees don’t all have smartphones or access to computers and high-speed internet, which is necessary to apply for an appointment on the app. Black asylum seekers have reported that CBP One rejects required photos because of problems with the technology picking up on darker skin tones, delaying or rejecting their applications. Meanwhile, our laws guarantee an asylum seeker’s right to seek protection regardless of how they arrive in the United States. Conditioning access to asylum largely on access to a smartphone app is cruel, illogical, and illegal.

LGBTQ/H refugees expose themselves to grave harm in Mexico as they wait for appointments. LGBTQ refugees waiting to enter the U.S. face homophobic violence, including rape, torture, and murder, as well as homelessness and lack of medical care. The U.S. government has previously recognized that Mexico is dangerous for LGBTQ people, but this rule still forces vulnerable queer and trans refugees to spend prolonged periods of time waiting near the border for an appointment or traveling to distant ports of entry to attend appointments. To get around this requirement, an asylum seeker must prove that they face an imminent and extreme threat to life and safety in Mexico. This basically requires LGBTQ/H people to predict the future, which is an impossible ask. Violence happens randomly and unexpectedly. The perpetrators do not usually announce an intent to harm ahead of time. This rule has the perverse effect of requiring LGBTQ (and other asylum seekers) to expose themselves to more violent persecution before seeking refuge.

The Biden administration is going back on its commitment to protect LGBTQ people. The Biden administration promised to protect LGBTQ people fleeing persecution, including through asylum access. However, the proposed rule will have the opposite effect. Due to the high burdens imposed by the rule, countless LGBTQ/H people will not be able to seek asylum and the safety that comes with it. Instead, LGBTQ/H people will be returned into the hands of their persecutors.  

The rule is a return to hateful and dangerous Trump-era policies. The rule attempts to differentiate itself from disastrous Trump policies by claiming it provides exceptions and alternative pathways to asylum. However, due to unreasonably high and dangerous burdens imposed by the rule, these exceptions and alternatives will fail to protect people who need it the most. LGBTQ/H asylum seekers will be stranded in Mexico or returned to countries of persecution. The end result will have the same damaging outcomes that have been documented under the Trump administration. Vulnerable people will be tortured, assaulted, or murdered as long as the administration limits asylum access.

This rule is a shameful return to Trump-era policies President Biden promised to overturn. LGBTQ/H asylum seekers have a right to seek protection in the United States no matter how they find themselves at our doorstep.