Migrants at border
Migrants wait in line while California border activists organize the group to enter the U.S. and seek asylum through the Chaparral entryway in Tijuana. Photo by Carlos A. Moreno for CalMatters

The San Diego Rapid Response Network issued a condemnation Wednesday of the Biden Administration’s proposed new restrictions on refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

The coalition of human-rights organizations, led by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, operates local migrant shelters funded by state government and private donors.

“While on the campaign trail, President Biden promised to fix our nation’s broken immigration system and restore humanity to our asylum process,” the coalition said. “What the administration has announced today is essentially an asylum ban — a reprehensible step backwards.”

Under the new rules, migrants who cross the border illegally, or do not first seek protection in a country they pass through, could be deported. Previously, migrants could apply for asylum however they entered the country.

The proposal comes as the administration is fighting multiple federal lawsuits filed by Republican state officials who want to restrict immigration.

“We strongly urge that the administration immediately withdraw this proposal,” the coalition said. “Asylum seekers are not the enemy; our broken immigration system is.”

The coalition, whose core partners include the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, SEIU Local 221 and Southwestern College, has assisted more than 125,000 asylum seekers fleeing persecution and violence since October 2018.

Their work focuses on uniting families, with 98% of refugees joining family or loved ones already in the United States.

The coalition released a report Wednesday that concludes “humane, viable and cost-effective processes to welcome people seeking asylum in the U.S. are possible” and holds up the San Diego model as one that can apply nationally.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.