News & Resources

IRAP: Expanded Humanitarian Pathways Must Not Replace Asylum


April 27, 2023


Spencer Tilger |


Gutting asylum protections at border runs counter to goal of increased protections

(New York, NY) – Today, the Biden administration announced a set of new measures to address regional migration within the Western Hemisphere, including opening centers in Guatemala and Colombia to process thousands of people through various humanitarian pathways. In addition to expanding family reunification parole programs, the administration pledges to resettle thousands of refugees a month from the Western Hemisphere via the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The announcement comes ahead of the end of Title 42 restrictions on May 11 and government plans to restrict the right to seek asylum in the United States.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) welcomes the expansion of family reunification parole programs and refugee processing in the Americas, but strongly opposes doing so as a trade off for limiting the legal rights of people seeking asylum in the United States. While today’s announcement recognizes the protection needs of people seeking asylum at the border, the administration’s simultaneous pursuit of an asylum ban and other immigration restrictions runs counter to the aim of expanding humanitarian protections.

IRAP is also concerned that the Biden administration provided little detail on how this plan will be implemented or where the resources will come from for this massive mobilization. After years of devastating cuts during the Trump administration, the U.S. refugee program is starved for investment and plagued by backlogs. The Biden administration has embarked on building USRAP back better, and that effort must continue in tandem with the expansion of refugee processing in the Americas. 

“Expanding family reunification parole pathways and refugee processing for displaced people in the Americas is long overdue, but we cannot ignore that the Biden administration is proposing a Faustian bargain by simultaneously seeking to implement a Trump-era asylum ban at the U.S-Mexico border, effectively slamming the door shut on countless others in need,” said Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at IRAP. “Framing USRAP as a border management tool risks further politicizing a program already at a crossroads, and should not come at the expense of asylum protections. There should be more pathways to safety for people in the Americas, not fewer.” 

Additional Information

  • Read IRAP’s recommendations for rebuilding USRAP: HERE
  • Read IRAP’s previous statement condemning the proposed asylum ban: HERE