South Carolina Appleseed’s Statement on The Administration’s Asylum Ban (September 2019)

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Last night, the Supreme Court allowed the Administration to enforce new rules that forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States. This decision practically ends asylum at the southern border, betrays our values, and makes refugees’ journey to safety much more dangerous.

Before this unprecedented ruling, U.S asylum law only barred people who passed through a designated “safe third country” or who have “firmly resettled” in a third country from entry. For good reason, Canada is the only officially designated “safe third country” in North America. As a result of this decision, Venezuelans fleeing Maduro’s starving dictatorship and Central Americans fleeing violence and persecution in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador would be denied asylum simply because they passed through other countries to enter the United States.

Though the final ruling is months away, the danger these asylum-seekers face has still been heightened. Knowing full-well that they cannot request asylum at ports of entry, they will instead brave dangerous rivers and deserts to seek liberation. Some will die, as many already have. By denying these people a safe port of entry, we are complicit in these deaths.

Instead of embracing the policies that denied asylum to 900 Jewish people fleeing the Holocaust in 1939, we must restore our position as the leader of the free world, embracing asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants—the tired, the poor and persecuted. The current Administration would rather halt all immigration, no matter the costs on human life and America’s standing in the world.

As Americans, we must not stand for this.