The Long Road to Recovery for Asylum Seekers in the Biden Administration

By Amelia McGowan, immigration campaign director / senior attorney at the Mississippi Center for Justice

Over the past four years, we have seen significant attacks on the US asylum and refugee systems, to the point that they have “degenerated into little more than a pit of misery, chaos, and injustice – a far cry from the beacon of hope and safety they were intended to be.” This evening, the Biden administration took initial steps to remedy those harms by committing to review the Trump administration’s harmful “Remain in Mexico” policy and public charge rule, restoring protections for refugees and asylum seekers, and setting up a task force to reunite migrant children torn from their families.


But the road to recovery will be long. The Trump Administration’s attacks have hit Mississippi communities hard. They removed life-saving protections from thousands of immigrant Mississippians facing deportation, including hundreds arrested in the 2019 ICE raids. Late last year, eight Cameroonian asylum seekers in Natchez reported suffering torture by immigration officers and others at the Adams County Correctional Facility when they refused to sign documents facilitating deportation to their likely deaths.


As our state’s only non-profit with a focus on asylum advocacy, Mississippi Center for Justice is fighting back. Thanks to your support, we continue to fight for protections for asylum seekers through removal defense and appellate representation. We continue to educate our greater community about asylum through media engagement. And as members of a nationwide asylum working group, we have taken a leadership role in shaping policies to protect asylum seekers and refugees under the new administration.


For more on our call for the Biden Administration to restore protection to asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection in the United States, please see my op-ed in the Clarion Ledger, Mississippi’s newspaper of record. You can also read my recent Mississippi Free Press op-ed on the fight to save the lives of Black immigrants detained in Mississippi.


Your continued support will ensure that Mississippi Center for Justice remains a leader in asylum advocacy – not only in our state, but nationwide – and that Mississippi will provide safety and freedom to those who seek it.