The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has announced it is to reduce the number of firms able to offer social, welfare and family legal aid from about 2,400 to 1,300.
The LSC said its aim was to "improve current services wherever possible."
But Refugee Council chief executive Donna Covey said the move was "unacceptable."
She said: "Slashing funding for legal aid and restricting the number of law firms that can provide it means asylum-seekers will either be forced to pay for legal services themselves or, more likely, to go without.
"This will result in people who deserve protection here being wrongly refused asylum and returned to countries where their lives are in danger. This is unacceptable.
"People who have fled human rights abuses and are now seeking safety in our country must have legal representation to ensure they are given a fair hearing and can be recognised as genuine refugees.
"As asylum-seekers are not allowed to work, they have no choice but to rely on publicly funded legal advice."
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson called on the LSC to publish the findings of its review in full.
"The fall-out from the recent tendering process will see almost 50 per cent of firms previously doing legal aid week removed in a matter of a few weeks," he said.
"The effect of such a massive reduction in the number of firms is that tens of thousands of clients around England and Wales are likely to be forced to find a new family solicitor all at the same time in October.
"This will impact heavily on families and vulnerable people, preventing them access to vital legal services when they need them most.
"As important is the glaring evidence that the allocation and distribution of contracts will leave significant problems for access to justice.
"Hence the society's call for the Legal Services Commission to review and publish that review."
He said the society had written to the government calling for the suspension of the proposals and added that it was considering the possibility of legal action.
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