U.S. Bishops Denounce New Federal Immigration Restrictions

June 07, 2024

On Wednesday, President Biden’s administration implemented an asylum ban that will block migrants from claiming asylum at the Southern Border. Under this provision, authorities will quickly deport or send back to Mexico migrants who cross the border illegally without the chance to claim asylum when migrant arrests surpass 2,500 per day for a week (border arrests averaged 4,300 per day in April). Additionally, the minimum time asylum seekers will have to find a lawyer will be reduced from 24 hours to just four. There are still several questions about how the asylum ban will work in practice, including how will migrants from distant and uncooperative countries be deported and how many non-Mexican migrants will Mexico be willing to take.

Republicans have spoken out against these restrictions, claiming they are insufficient and politically motivated. Democrats are split on the issue, with more liberal lawmakers criticizing Biden and moderates praising him.

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Chairman of the Committee on Migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that they were “deeply disturbed by this disregard for fundamental humanitarian protections and U.S. asylum law.” Regarding the risks posed by the border crisis, he added: “For those concerned about violent gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers, we join you in opposing those evildoers. At the same time, we ask: What fate awaits the families who flee for their lives from the same predatory actors, only to be returned to their grasp once they reach our borders? Imposing arbitrary limits on asylum access and curtailing due process will only empower and embolden those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable.” You can read Bishop Seitz’s statement here.