Newark, New Jersey [05.14.24] -  On May 9, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a change in asylum rules aimed at expediting asylum claim denials for individuals with conviction histories and others deemed a national and public safety risk. The Biden administration asserts that the proposed rule enhances efficiency in asylum processing by barring individuals from proceeding far into the application process if they would otherwise be mandatorily prevented from obtaining asylum relief. NJAIJ firmly opposes this proposed rule, and condemns the Biden administration for suggesting that denying people fleeing life-threatening circumstances is the only solution to making our asylum and border policy more efficient.

Historically, asylum officers did not consider mandatory bars during the credible fear screening because the application of U.S. law relating to bars to asylum is legally complex and often-fact intensive that it would be impossible to make a fair determination at that early a stage. Notably, not long ago, the DHS and DOJ agreed stating that “requiring asylum officers to broadly apply mandatory bars during credible fear screenings would have made these screenings less efficient,” emphasizing that “due process and fairness considerations counsel against applying mandatory bars during the credible fear screening process.” Now, as the November election looms closer and the administration bends to pressures from regressive immigration hawks, DHS and DOJ now seek to revert back to the rule they once were clearly against.

Placing bars on asylum and restricting the means by which people can claim asylum do not make our system more efficient. Harsher border restrictions are not a deterrent, rather, they only make border crossings more deadly. For years, harsher restrictions at the border have only led to an increase in abuses and neglect at detention and processing facilities, family separation, and incentives for traffickers to entrap applicants who fear they may face denials. To make our immigration policy more efficient, it must start with being more humane. Resources must first go towards increasing the number of immigration judges and allowing work authorization so individuals waiting review can become self-sufficient as they await their case.

NJAIJ demands a dignified review of asylum claims that upholds the dignity of every individual, regardless of their past and current circumstances. Together with our members, NJAIJ intends to launch a public comment campaign opposing the proposed change, and will work with our federal representatives to fight back against any further erosion to our asylum system.

In response to the rule, Dante Apaestegui, Community Response Coordinator at New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, said: 

Asylum is not a political bargaining chip, it is a lifeline for those seeking persecution. To truncate the asylum application process to days and even hours is to virtually immobilize people from obtaining counsel and having a fair shot in presenting their claims. This proposed rule makes clear that beneath the veneer of efficiency, lies a dangerous erosion of human rights.” 


New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) is the state’s largest immigration coalition. Together with 55+ member organizations, NJAIJ fights for policies that empower and protect immigrants.