To the Editor:

Re: “How to Fix America’s Immigration Crisis” (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 14)

In this shortsighted essay, the authors propose that “we should require asylum seekers to apply in Mexico or other countries, including their home countries.” As an immigration attorney at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, I can tell you that this idea would be laughable if it were not so frighteningly close to becoming the law.

How would this work? Would the Afghans fleeing the Taliban simply line up at the U.S. embassy in Kabul? (Spoiler alert: There isn’t one.) Also, the Mexican asylum system is no less overwhelmed than our own, having received a record number of applications in 2023.

Likewise, it makes no sense to punish asylum seekers who enter the U.S. between ports of entry. Waiting in Mexico for a border appointment has been a logistical nightmare and has exposed asylum seekers to extreme violence from criminal organizations. We should not make it more dangerous for them for the sake of maintaining bureaucratic niceties.

We need increased funding for the immigration system, and we should widen other immigration avenues, such as work visas. But our leaders should also focus on the root causes that drive people from their homes—a lack of security, coupled with an underdeveloped economy (often saddled by international debt and/or draconian sanctions)—and try to find long-term solutions that will enable us to welcome asylum seekers with dignity.

F. Evan Benz
Senior Attorney, CAIR Coalition

Published in The New York Times on January 19, 2024.