Biden’s Deadly Politics: On the Executive Order Restricting the Right to Seek Asylum

Contact: press@ccrjustice.

June 5, 2024, New York – In response to President Biden’s executive order to shut down the border, the Center for Constitutional Rights released the following statement: 

Lagging in the polls, President Biden is resorting to a depressingly familiar tactic: trying to score political points on the backs of vulnerable people. The executive order he announced yesterday – which effectively closes the U.S.-Mexico border and suspends the right to seek asylum – is both illegal and immoral. It will inflict suffering on people who have already suffered greatly. It will get people killed. And it will fuel a race to the racist bottom with Donald Trump.

Biden’s policy resembles Trump’s transit ban, which the courts struck down. Both federal and international law guarantee the right to seek asylum regardless of how and where one enters the country. The policy also violates the internationally recognized principle of non-refoulement – codified in the U.S. Code at 8 U.S.C. § 1231 – which prohibits the return of refugees and asylum seekers to countries where they could face persecution or harm. 

The executive order shuts down the border when “unauthorized crossings” exceeds 2,500 per day. The number is above that now, so the policy goes into effect immediately, essentially implementing a quota that, a century later, recalls the infamously racist Immigration Act of 1924

The words of our partners at Al Otro Lado, who combat daily the violence caused by U.S. immigration policy at the U.S.- Mexico border, are instructive:

“What the Biden Administration ignores is that asylum seekers would not be forced to take dangerous routes, putting their lives at risk entering through irregular means, if CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol) processed asylum seekers upon arrival at U.S. ports of entry, without requiring them to wait in the world’s most dangerous cities for months on end, while they attempt to navigate a complicated, glitchy, frequently inoperable smartphone application that is available in only 3 languages, and makes no accommodations for persons with disabilities, life-threatening illnesses, or those otherwise at immediate risk of harm or death.”

In 2023, together with Al Otro Lado, Haitian Bridge Alliance, several individual plaintiffs, and our co-counsel, we filed a class action lawsuit against the Biden administration for denying people access to the asylum process unless they manage to download and make an appointment through that notoriously defective app. People who do not have the means to make an appointment this way are forced to wait in Mexico in dangerous conditions for months. 

We know from the Trump presidency – and from common sense – that the U.S. government will implement this restrictive policy in a discriminatory manner, inflicting particular harm on Black migrants. Due to both individual bias and structural racism, Black migrants are disproportionately denied access to a fair asylum process and subjected to prolonged detention, where they face a heightened risk of violence. The results can be lethal. 

Biden’s attacks on asylum seekers are all the more disgraceful because many are fleeing problems that the United States created. The United States – a nation built on stolen lands, labor, and resources – destabilizes governments, weakens economies, and stokes violence as it extracts wealth from the Global South and exerts geopolitical control around the world. Like all restrictive immigration policies, Biden’s executive order further punishes victims of U.S. imperialism. 

We stand in solidarity with the migrants struggling to survive and with the grassroots organizations working on their behalf. As the cynicism and brutality of our politicians tempt us toward despair, their courage gives us hope. 

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

June 5, 2024