Venezuelan migrants - CBP One
A report accused the Biden administration of "metering" AFP / HERIKA MARTINEZ

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Biden administration of limiting migrants' right to claim asylum in the United States by making them apply through CBP One.

"The Biden asylum rule impermissibly limits the right to seek asylum for many people and compels them to wait in foreseeably dangerous and inhumane conditions in Mexico," reads a passage of the organization's report, titled "'We Couldn't Wait': Digital Metering at the US-Mexico Border."

The Biden administration implemented the use of the app in May 2023 after Title 42 was lifted. According to a recent statement by a government official, it takes 10 weeks to get an immigration appointment through CBP One.

1,450 appointments are processed every day and most are assigned randomly. A small proportion are allocated (also randomly) among those who have been making requests the longest without success. People usually apply every day until getting an appointment.

Using the app and not crossing the border allow those approved by CBP One to apply for a work permit after being released from custody. Those apprehended after crossing illegally become ineligible for asylum if they enter the country after failing to seek refuge in another country beforehand.

However, HRW said that the U.S. is bound by the "fundamental right of all people to seek asylum in another country, and to be granted refugee protection after proving fear of persecution on specific grounds."

The country, the report added, is engaged in "metering," a term it coined during the Trump administration when the government imposed daily limits to the amount of asylum-seekers processed every day. It claimed the Mexican government, led by president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly known as AMLO) is complicit in this practice.

"The Biden and López Obrador administrations are knowingly exposing migrants to persecution at the hands of cartels that systematically target migrants for kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault," said Ari Sawyer, U.S. border researcher at Human Rights Watch. "U.S. and Mexican governments should stop forcing migrants to wait in Mexico and should stop collaborating on rights-abusive immigration policies."

The report also highlighted that many asylum-seekers don't have phones because they can't afford them or because criminal groups have stolen them. "When asylum seekers do have phones, their devices often do not have memory space to support the app, they cannot pay for the data they need to use the app, or they do not have access to Wi-Fi," the report said.

Many people have also reported trouble using or accessing the app, listing issues such as the app being "particularly difficult to use due to identity factors such as their race, digital literacy, ability to read or write, language, age, LGBT status, or disability."

Regarding people with disabilities, a separate report recorded claims of the app being inaccessible to migrants who are blind, deaf, have mobility issues or intellectual disabilities, among others.

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