Plans to change asylum policy and its impact on the U.S. southern border

Plans to change asylum policy and its impact on the U.S. southern border

In recent months, there has been debate about plans by both the White House of Joe Biden and some legislators from both parties to modify asylum policy in the United States. These proposals are aimed at reducing the impact of the immigration crisis at the border with Mexico.

However, a report published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) warns that these plans could have the opposite result than expected.

Ineffectiveness of limiting asylum

According to the AILA report, the idea of limiting or “capping” the number of people who could be granted asylum is not an effective solution for managing migration at the U.S. southern border.

This proposal has been put forward as a way to reduce or limit migration, but immigration advocates argue that this measure does not address the underlying causes of the crisis and could have negative consequences.

The report notes that a limit on asylum could strengthen drug cartel activity and make Mexico’s northern border region more violent and dangerous. In addition, limiting asylum could slow down the processing of immigrant cases and exacerbate backlogs at the border.

This would not only violate U.S. and international law, but would also force people fleeing persecution to return to places where their lives would be in danger.

Proposed Plans

Various plans have been proposed by legislators from both parties. On the one hand, the Biden administration has been “prepping” Democratic lawmakers and immigration policy advocates for the possibility of accepting compromises on the asylum law in exchange for passage of the 2024 spending budget.

Separately, a group of Republican senators has put forward a plan that includes severe limitations on asylum law, incarceration of asylum seekers, expedited deportations, and DNA sampling.

A third tripartite plan, involving Democrats, independents and Republicans, has also been proposed. This bill is similar to the Republican plan and seeks to increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), expedite immigration due process, and increase requirements for asylum claims, among other restrictions.

Criticism of the proposals

Immigrant rights and civil rights organizations have called the proposals “abhorrent” and contrary to U.S. immigration history and precedent.

According to these organizations, limiting the right to asylum would have disastrous consequences and would violate domestic and international laws establishing a person’s right to seek asylum at the border.

The AILA report backs up these criticisms, noting that a limit on asylum would be a “boon” to cartels and human traffickers. It would also make the border region in northern Mexico an even more dangerous area.

Cartel business models include preying on, harming and kidnapping migrants for ransom and profit. These cartel rivalries also generate violence and turf wars along the border, endangering asylum seekers and U.S. border officials.

Additional effects of limiting asylum

The AILA report highlights several additional effects that could arise from limiting asylum at the southern border.

  • Increased irregular migration: Limiting access to safe and humane avenues to seek protection and forcing people to wait in Mexico could increase irregular migration between ports of entry along the southern border.
  • Risk of deportations to countries of origin: There is a risk that the Mexican government will deport asylum seekers to their countries of origin, where their lives may be in danger.
  • Lack of deterrence: There is no reason to believe that a limit on asylum seekers would deter significant numbers of people at the border. People would continue to come to the U.S. border seeking asylum because they believe they have a chance of obtaining protection.
  • Violation of domestic and international laws: Limiting asylum would arbitrarily deny vital protection to legitimate asylum seekers and would violate domestic and international laws to which the United States is a signatory, which establish a person’s right to seek asylum at the border and protect against forced return to dangerous countries.

AILA Recommendations

In the face of threats to curtail or limit asylum policy, AILA has recommended to the Biden administration a practical and humane alternative. According to immigration attorneys, the only way to implement a cap would be to allow individuals to enter the United States while their cases are being decided.

This would not limit asylum seekers if they are granted entry. However, administering a cap would be complicated and would require significant additional time and resources.

AILA also cautions that administering a cap on asylum, as has been done with other immigration visas, would complicate and slow down the asylum review process. This would undermine the efficiency of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts, adding to the already existing backlogs affecting both agencies.


Plans to modify asylum policy at the U.S. southern border have raised concerns among immigration attorneys and civil rights organizations. Limiting asylum is not considered an effective solution for managing migration and could have disastrous consequences.

It would strengthen drug cartels, make the border region more dangerous, and violate national and international laws. In light of these proposals, AILA recommends allowing individuals to enter the United States while their cases are being decided as a more practical and humane alternative.