An Essential Backstop for Humanitarian Protection
Relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) is even more important now that the Biden administration’s new asylum ban and border regulations have significantly curtailed access to asylum for most individuals who are fleeing for their lives and seeking safety in the United States. These restrictions underscore the need for fair, consistent standards in adjudicating CAT claims.
For noncitizens facing deportation who fear torture and death in their home countries but are ineligible for asylum or most other forms of immigration relief, deferral of removal under CAT is meant to offer a last resort of humanitarian protection. In its work providing legal services to thousands of immigrants facing detention and removal— including many individuals seeking protection under CAT—the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition has observed firsthand the significant obstacles people face in pursuing CAT protection.
This policy brief examines some of the substantive and procedural problems that exist around access to CAT protection, including within the context of the Biden administration’s new asylum and border rules. The brief also includes recommendations that would ensure that CAT protection can properly function as originally intended and improve—as an effective safeguard to prevent deporting people to torture and death.