March 29, 2023

Warren, Menendez, Padilla, Senators Submit Public Comment Against Biden Administration's Proposed Asylum Transit Ban Rule

Unlawful Proposal Would Erect Multiple New Barriers to Asylum Protections for People Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border 

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and 9 other senators submitted a public comment against the Biden Administration’s proposed rule to restrict asylum at the southern border. The senators called on the Biden Administration to withdraw the rule in its entirety.

“The proposed rule is a revised version of asylum bans put in place during the prior administration—bans that were struck down by the courts,” wrote the senators to officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice. “As lawmakers whose millions of constituents rely on us to both protect refugees and maintain border security, we call on the administration to withdraw this proposed rule and take steps to reform the asylum system in a way that honors our nation’s legal obligations. We stand ready to work with the administration to provide the resources and authorities needed to realize our shared vision of a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system.”

“Although we support the administration’s goal of managing migration at the U.S.-Mexico border by creating new efficiencies in the asylum system, this rule violates our legal obligations to protect refugees fleeing persecution and usurps Congressional authority by adding unlawful bars to asylum eligibility,” added the senators. “The United States has legal obligations to ensure asylum access to those arriving at U.S. borders and ports of entry. Policies that uphold this obligation are central to a functioning border processing system. Restricting access to asylum in an approach previously rejected by Congress and our courts is counterproductive and ineffective at addressing the government’s stated goals. We call on the administration to withdraw this rule in its entirety.”

Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) joined the letter. 

Senator Warren has led ongoing efforts to protect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers and hold the United States accountable to its humanitarian obligations. 

  • Last week, Senator Warren joined Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and her colleagues in a letter to President Biden expressing concern over reports that the administration is considering restarting the practice of family detention to hold noncitizens in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody as their cases are being processed. 
  • In January 2023, Senator Warren and nearly 70 other lawmakers sent a letter urging President Biden to reverse his administration’s expansion of the inhumane Trump-era border policy known as Title 42 and to abandon the proposed asylum “transit ban” rule. The lawmakers also encouraged the President and his administration to work with Congress to ensure they develop safe, humane, and orderly border policies that enforce our immigration laws and uphold the right to asylum under domestic and international law.
  • In December 2022, Senator Warren joined a letter to the DHS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement expressing concern over the treatment of Black migrants, including shackling pregnant and postpartum people, in federal custody. 
  • In November 2022, Senator Warren led her colleagues in a letter to CBP and CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) raising concerns about the final report released by CBP OPR regarding the treatment of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.
  • In September 2022,  Senator Warren led members of the Massachusetts delegation in a letter to DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency calling for funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program to be allocated swiftly to organizations assisting newly arrived migrants in Massachusetts. 
  • Also in September 2022, Senator Warren released a statement condemning efforts to use asylum seekers as political pawns and committing to assisting communities in need. 
  • In April 2022, Senator Warren and her colleagues sent a private inquiry to CBP requesting information on CBP OPR’s’s progress in their investigation of the events that occurred in Del Rio, Texas. 
  • In February 2022, Senators Warren and Booker, Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and 99 of their Congressional colleagues sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to reverse inhumane immigration policies which often disproportionately harm Black migrants, such as Title 42.
  • In November 2021, Senator Warren stated her opposition to the continued use of the Title 42 program and called for the Biden administration to rescind this policy.
  • In October 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Menendez in criticizing the inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants and called on the administration to support long-term stability in Haiti.  
  • In October 2021, during his confirmation hearing to be CBP Commissioner, Senator Warren called for Commissioner Chris Magnus to commit to transparency regarding the investigation into the events in Del Rio, Texas.