Toward a More Perfect Sanctuary: How To Reform the U.S. Asylum System

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A migrant mother and daughter, 8, from Honduras sit with fellow asylum seekers after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States on March 26, 2021 in Penitas, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The last time Congress re-negotiated who is eligible for asylum in the United States, it came in the aftermath of the fall of Saigon, when an influx of southeast Asian refugees forced changes to how Americans provided sanctuary. Now, as Afghan refugees continue to arrive after the fall of Kabul and amidst the continuing stream of people fleeing violence in the Americas, could this be a moment when our system changes again? And if so, how might we create a better system? In the final show of our series on asylum we talk about how to build a better system for providing humanitarian relief at our borders and inside our country.


Bree Bernwanger, senior immigrant justice attorney, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

David FitzGerald, professor of sociology and co-director, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego, author, Refuge beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers

Alex Nowrasteh, director of Immigration Studies and the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute