Booker raises concerns about CBP mobile application for asylum seekers

WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chair of the Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, expressed concern in a letter to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Customs Border Protection ( CBP) that the CBP One mobile application is the only method for asylum seekers to keep appointments. The new process and usage of the app has experienced various technical issues since DHS ramped up its usage in January.

“Since the app became the primary method for seeking asylum and humanitarian parole in January 2023, it has been plagued by inconsistencies that have resulted in an unfair trial,” Senator Booker wrote in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller. “US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) releases a limited number of appointments each day. Successfully getting an appointment is like winning the lottery for the thousands of migrants living in camps waiting to get an interview spot. Aside from the likelihood of getting an appointment, technical issues make it virtually impossible for many migrants to access the app — outdated devices, poor cell phone service or voice access have become barriers.”

Senator Booker expressed concern about the inherent discrimination that could result from the CBP One even if the technical issues were resolved.

“Even if the CBP One app were as efficient, user-friendly, fair and inclusive as possible – which I hope will one day be – it would still be inherently discriminatory. In order to use the app, a person must have a working mobile phone, a reliable internet connection, and have sufficient resources and be in good health to stay safely in a single location near the southern border or in their country of origin. This situation is not the reality for asylum seekers whose lives are threatened in their home country or in northern Mexico. It is not a reality for pregnant women who do not qualify for a humanitarian exemption from the CBP One appointment process. And it’s not a reality for asylum seekers who travel to our border or stay in their country of origin but don’t have phone or internet access or can’t use a cell phone,” Senator Booker continued.

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Senator Booker also expressed disappointment that proper precautions were not taken prior to the launch of CBP One and urged further improvements to the application.

“As your agency prepares for the long overdue end of Title 42 deportations in May 2023, I strongly support increasing the number of appointments available on CBP One to accommodate as many legitimate asylum claims as possible from migrants unable to return home . I also encourage you to explore additional avenues that would allow people without the necessary resources to make CBP One appointments to safely seek asylum at ports of entry,” Senator Booker concluded.

The full text of the letter can be found here.