News » As Biden Moves Forward with Asylum Ban, Bay Area Leaders Gather in Solidarity for Seeking Asylum Premiere

As Biden Moves Forward with Asylum Ban, Bay Area Leaders Gather in Solidarity for Seeking Asylum Premiere

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Mar 03, 2023

One week following the Biden administration’s proposal of a sweeping asylum ban at the border, hundreds of community members came together for the Bay Area premiere of Honeypot Productions’ documentary film Seeking Asylum. A free screening of the film at The Strand Theater was followed by a panel discussion moderated by KQED Immigration Senior Editor Tyche Hendricks and featuring the film's creators, leading asylum experts, and advocates. Panelists responded to the White House’s latest policy announcements and called on community members and elected officials to oppose the proposed asylum ban.

“It has always been my goal to give people a platform to tell their stories through documentary filmmaking,” said Rae Ceretto, Director of Seeking Asylum. “In order to change surrounding narratives, we need to cultivate human connection through shared experiences. There is a huge difference between the reality asylum seekers are encountering and the rhetoric that we see depicted in the media. Kensy’s story gives a face to the asylum journey and to all the asylum seekers arriving at our border every single day.”

“Kensy’s story shines a light on the courage and resilience of people seeking asylum,” said Professor Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Families like Kensy’s face threats to their lives in their home countries and unspeakable violence en route to the United States. Upon arriving, instead of being given the opportunity for protection that our laws require, they faced unlawful barriers to protection. The latest of these is the Biden administration’s proposed resurrection of an asylum ban. It would deny people like Kensy the opportunity to even apply for asylum if they did not apply in countries of transit – an absurd proposition because the majority of these countries are just as dangerous as the countries they fled. This is a violation of our domestic and international legal obligations and will result in the return of refugees to the life-threatening conditions they fled. We urge the administration to reverse course, and we call on community members to speak up and submit a public comment opposing the ban.”

“I do not agree with Biden’s policy to deny asylum,” said Zoila, an asylum seeker and member leader at Mujeres Unidas y Activas. “It has taken so much for us to get here. It will cause us a lot of suffering if they return us to dangerous conditions. If the ban on asylum that he proposes had been in effect when I came to the border, I would not be here telling my story. I ask the government to hear my case, to listen to the women who have lived through so much. We have come here to live in peace, and we are fighting for our children.”

“Kensy’s willingness to share the intimate parts of her life with us is humbling,” said Professor Bill Ong Hing, Director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at the University of San Francisco Law School. “She and the filmmakers inspire us to continue to fight for fairness in the nation's asylum system and demand a humanitarian response to migrants fleeing danger.”

This film reveals the way that the exclusionary and racist asylum policies of the Trump-Biden era are putting human families’ lives at risk and putting them in harm’s way,” said Reverend Deborah Lee, Executive Director of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity. “As a nation we can do better than this. We must restore the right to asylum and invest in a system that meets human needs and supports new arrivals and long-term residents with the resources to thrive.”

The premiere was hosted by Honeypot Productions, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Dr. Bronner's Family Foundation, The Grove Foundation, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, and Honeypot Productions.

Supporting sponsors for the event included Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Congregation Sherith Israel, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigration Center for Women and Children, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, The Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco, Kehilla Community Synagogue Immigration Committee, Kids in Need of Defense - San Francisco, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, La Raza Centro Legal, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, NorCal Resist, Priority Africa Network, and Sha’ar Zahav.

Seeking Asylum is now available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, and anywhere you can buy movies. We encourage organizations to consider hosting a screening in their community.