Joint Report Details Restrictions on Access to Asylum at Nogales, Arizona Port of Entry

Joint Report Details Restrictions on Access to Asylum at Nogales, Arizona Port of Entry

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Human Rights First, the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, and the Kino Border Initiative released A Line that Barely Budges: U.S. Limiting Access to Asylum. The report documents the barriers to protection that people attempting to seek asylum face at the U.S. port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, following the end of Title 42 and the start of the Biden asylum ban.

“I spoke with many refugees in Nogales, Mexico who are at risk of kidnappings, sexual assault, and other life-threatening harms while they are left to wait in danger by Biden administration policies,” said Christina Asencio, Director of Refugee Research & Analysis with Human Rights First. “The Biden administration’s asylum ban, failure to promptly process asylum seekers without appointments, and deficient resourcing of ports of entry are endangering the lives of refugees who are struggling to seek asylum. People seeking asylum from Mexico have been left stranded in their country of feared persecution in a line that barely budges. The Biden administration should uphold U.S. asylum law, rescind the illegal asylum ban, and maximize asylum processing capacity at DeConcini and ports of entry across the southern border.”

“This report details the alarming situation that people seeking safety face at the DeConcini Port of Entry since Title 42 ended and the new asylum ban was implemented,” said Laura St. John, Florence Project Legal Director. “People who are unable to use the CBPOne app are being forced to wait in dangerous conditions for lengthy periods of time, which violates their right to protection in the United States. This includes Mexican asylum seekers who are trapped in the country of their persecution, as well as Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers who are more vulnerable to persecution while waiting in Mexico. Through this report, we hope to call attention to the inhumane conditions that ongoing bans against asylum force those seeking protection to endure at the DeConcini Port of Entry.” 

“Title 42 was not the first policy to block people fleeing violence and persecution from accessing asylum. Unfortunately, as we are witnessing, it will not be the last,” said Pedro De Velasco, Director of Education and Advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative. “Violating international and domestic law, and the rights of people seeking protection, is becoming a terrible and heartless habit in the United States. Asylum seekers are forced to endure and overcome dangers and abuse throughout their journey, only to face humiliation and indifference before finally reaching long-awaited safety. This dehumanizing line at the port of entry is not generated by people seeking asylum but by the policies preventing them from accessing it. How long will we continue to close our doors to human needs? People seeking asylum are not a problem to be solved, but our brothers and sisters who need and deserve to be welcomed. Let us open the doors of our hearts to them.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • People seeking asylum struggle to use the CBP One app and obtain an appointment, which functions similar to a lottery, and face the threat of kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, and other immediate harm while left waiting indefinitely in highly dangerous areas;
  • Most non-Mexican people waiting to seek asylum are unaware of the Biden administration’s asylum ban. Once informed, they face a challenging dilemma: either continue waiting for a CBP One appointment, risking life-threatening harm, or present at the port and risk probable deportation and a five-year re-entry ban imposed by the asylum ban.
  • Many Mexican asylum seekers are forced to wait over two weeks outside the port of entry in their own country of feared persecution and at risk of harm as CBP prioritizes processing those with appointments;
  • People facing urgent medical or protection situations, including threats to their life or safety like sexual assault and kidnapping, have been neglected by U.S. officials. These individuals have been forced to wait in Nogales, Mexico for over two weeks due to limited processing of asylum seekers without CBP One appointments and a lack of effective mechanisms to promptly identify and address these high-risk situations.
  • The line for seeking asylum barely moves – hundreds of individuals and families waiting to seek asylum, many of whom are Mexican, have been left by CBP to wait in line for over 15 nights on average since May 15, 2023;
  • Women separated from their families by U.S. Border Patrol and CBP are stranded in Nogales as they struggle to seek asylum.

Along with KINO Border Initiative, the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Human Rights First is working to track, as it did with the Remain in Mexico and Title 42 policies, denials of access to asylum and other harms inflicted by the Biden administration’s asylum ban.  

We call on the Biden administration to uphold U.S. asylum law, immediately rescind the illegal asylum ban, ensure access to asylum outside of the CBP One app, maximize and stop limiting asylum processing at ports of entry, and stop separating families in Border Patrol and CBP custody.