CLASP calls on White House, Congress not to use asylum seekers as bargaining chips

This statement can be attributed to Wendy Cervantes, director of immigration and immigrant families at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Washington, D.C., December 8, 2023–CLASP is deeply disturbed by a report that the White House is considering even more restrictions on asylum and expanding fast-track deportation in negotiations to secure support for the supplemental foreign aid funding bill. As advocates for children and families, we are especially concerned about the short- and long-term harms this would inflict on asylum seekers and all immigrant families throughout the United States. 

By law, people have a right to seek asylum. Policymakers should not use the weakening of our asylum laws as a bargaining chip to pass unrelated funding priorities. Human rights are not something that can be compromised on. 

Human rights groups have documented the impacts of recent asylum restrictions, which have made thousands of people, including children, victims of violent attacks such as kidnapping, torture, rape, and extortion.

Furthermore, these policies will put even more families at risk for family separation, both at the border and nationwide, including mixed-status families with U.S. citizen children. Research on the long-lasting trauma children experience when they are torn away from their parents is definitive: they experience developmental delays, educational setbacks, and physical and mental distress.

Instead of these harmful approaches, we call for humane, child-centered solutions for border reception, such as federal investment in local systems of support and placing trained child protection experts alongside Customs and Border Protection officers to prevent family separation and minimize trauma. We also reject any proposal that threatens the safety and unity of immigrant families across the country.

Make no mistake, these attacks on asylum are attacks on all immigrants. They also contradict the President’s stated commitment to reversing the anti-immigrant legacies of the previous administration, including family separation.

We urge the administration and Congress to reject any efforts that exploit migrants seeking safety as political pawns.