The U.S. Needs Better, Not Less, Access To Asylum

At the Arizona-Mexico border, a woman and her children wait for nearly two months on a layer of blankets just outside a U.S. port of entry. They are fearful of falling asleep lest they lose their chance to ask for asylum. A Mexican man tearfully recounts how U.S. border authorities forced him to sign a ‘voluntary’ return to Mexico, despite his pleading that he couldn’t return. The next day, he crossed back into the United States between official ports. “May God be with us all,” he says, looking around at the dozens of asylum seekers who wait with him. A Mexican woman narrates being kept in U.S. custody for eight days without access to a shower, held in frigid temperatures, subjected to verbal attacks, and told to sign return papers she did not understand, or she would “go to jail for five years.” She says she was never asked whether she needed asylum. As U.S. lawmakers discuss imposing even harsher restrictions on asylum, these stories from the border illustrate why people fleeing for their lives cannot and should not be deterred from asking for protection. The more the U.S. government shuts the door to asylum seekers, the more families will be driven to cross the border by remote routes, endangering their lives, enriching organized crime, and forcing the government to invest resources in picking up people in the desert whose only wish may have been to present themselves to U.S. authorities and do things “the right way.” Photo by Stephanie Brewer Part of the line of mostly Mexican asylum seekers who will spend weeks to months waiting outside the DeConcini port of entry in Nogales, Sonora, having been unable to obtain CBP One appointments. The impossible wait to seek asylum “the right way” From December 3-7, 2023, WOLA staff […]

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By Donato