PASADENA, Calif. — More than 50 immigration advocates, community allies, and supporters gathered at the Pasadena federal appeals court on Tuesday to show their support for asylum rights and urge the Biden administration to uphold its legal and moral obligation to protect people fleeing danger and seeking safety.
The showing of solidarity came as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Biden, the legal challenge against President Biden’s asylum ban. The policy, which was first implemented in May 2023, bars most people from seeking asylum unless they apply, wait for, and are finally denied asylum in Mexico or another country they passed through on their journey to the U.S., or they secure a scarce appointment slot through the CBP One App.
Poll findings released earlier this year found nearly three-quarters of Americans (73.4 percent) agree that the United States should provide access to the U.S. asylum system to people fleeing persecution and/or violence. This sentiment was echoed by supporters at the rally who held signs reading “Asylum is a Human Right,” as speakers demanded an end to the asylum ban.
Remarks shared by advocates during the rally are as follows:
Guillermo Torres, director of programing, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice:
“Let us not repeat the horrible mistake of turning our backs on those fleeing violence and seeking refuge. Restoring asylum seekers’ rights is our nation’s moral obligation to protect and defend the sanctity of life.”
Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director, Immigrant Defenders Law Center:
“Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right. As an organization working on both sides of the border, ImmDef is acutely aware that lives literally hang in the balance when arbitrary restrictions prevent people from seeking safety. The asylum ban is just the latest cruel deterrence-based policy that willfully ignores the violence and persecution that people are fleeing. It’s time for the Biden administration to stop playing politics with human lives and muster the political courage to treat families seeking protection with dignity — as we would all want for our own families if they were facing the same dangerous circumstances.”
Angelica Salas, executive director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA):
“We are here to warn Congress against any attempt to restrict asylum. Instead we must fortify protections. Seeking asylum is legal. Period.”
Martha Arevalo, executive director, Central American Refugee Center-Los Angeles (CARECEN):
“It is unfathomable that the U.S. is adding to the suffering of so many people. We are here to tell President Biden and the federal government to end the asylum ban and ensure we are following U.S. and international law to protect people seeking safety.”
Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director, Haitian Bridge Alliance:
“Every person we encounter who has survived the journey to come and seek asylum is a miracle. From California to Washington D.C., we will not give up on calling on President Biden, the Vice President, and the DHS Secretary to end the asylum ban now.”