National #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Demands Due Process Not “Fast Track” for People Seeking Asylum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 28, 2021 

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | BilalA@wrcommission.org | 646-899-9722

 

National #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Demands Due Process Not “Fast Track” for People Seeking Asylum 

Dedicated or ‘rocket’ dockets are not this moment’s answer

Washington In response to reports that the Biden administration will begin fast-tracking the cases of certain families seeking asylum protection in the United States, representatives from the more than 60 organizations that comprise the newly launched campaign seeking to restore and re-envision asylum in the United States, Welcome With Dignity, issued the following statements:

 

Luis Guerra, Interim Manager for the Welcome With Dignity Campaign said: “People seeking protection in the United States are not looking for expeditious processing at the expense of a safe, humane and just process. Until we stop Title 42 expulsions that prevent people from making their asylum claims, we will not have a safe and just process. Until we roll back all of the previous administration’s anti-asylum precedents and make community-based support available, we will not have a safe and just process. The goals of our asylum system should not be fast tracking cases but ensuring access to counsel and due process. Treating people with dignity. The consequence of getting this wrong is a literal death sentence for people fleeing violence, persecution and other horrors. 

Conchita Cruz, Co-Executive Director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) said: “Many asylum seekers, including ASAP members, who have suffered persecution will have strong asylum cases once anti-immigrant Trump policies are undone. That is part of why this decision to create a new rocket docket for asylum seekers is so shameful. This new expedited docket will send asylum seekers in an expedited fashion toward their deportations and deaths. We hope that this administration will not allow this massive injustice to happen – and instead focus on reversing Trump administration policies and building a fundamentally more welcoming asylum system.”

Clara Long, Associate US Director of Human Rights Watch added: “Reforms to the asylum system should be made because the United States values fairness and access to protection. Today’s announcement of an expedited immigration court docket raises concerns about both. The Biden administration should put the efficiency cart behind the fairness horse and end the misguided expulsions of asylum seekers to danger in violation of U.S. refugee law while pursuing proven measures to better the system, such as universal legal representation, the use of affirmative processes and the elimination of the use of expedited removal.”

Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Church World Service said “The way we treat asylum seekers and immigrant families must reflect our nation’s values of compassion and welcome. Dedicated or ‘rocket’ dockets are not this moment’s answer. Visionary action to restore and strengthen asylum protections and policies that welcome asylum seekers and families require an immediate end to the immoral and illegal ‘Title 42’ expulsions and harsh anti-asylum policies put in place by the previous administration that persist today. Although we support an expansion in legal orientation programs, asylum seekers and immigrants deserve full legal representation to adjudicate their cases. A meaningfully equitable and fair solution would be an immediate end to all anti-asylum policies that continue to expel and turn away people fleeing violence, desperation, and persecution.”

Ursela Ojeda, Policy Advisor for the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program: “The Women’s Refugee Commission is concerned that the Biden administration is returning to fast-paced immigration court processes for families seeking safety at the US-Mexico border… We urge the Biden administration to immediately end the use of summary expulsions under the guise of the pandemic, and rescind Trump-era asylum case law decisions that will wreak havoc for anyone who manages to access the asylum process, including those under today’s announcement. Families and individuals seeking refuge cannot wait a minute longer. WRC urges the Biden administration to implement policies that ensure all families and adults who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border can seek asylum and have their cases be fairly decided. It is time to restart asylum and welcome with dignity, once and for all.”

Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection for Human Rights First said: “The announcement is also glaringly silent on the Biden administration’s continued use of the Trump administration Title 42 policy that expels asylum seekers to danger, and makes no mention of restarting asylum hearings for people who remain waiting and blocked from seeking asylum at U.S. ports of entry,” Acer added. “U.S. asylum proceedings cannot be considered fair when the Biden administration continues to blatantly violate U.S. refugee laws and treaties.”

Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies added: “The Biden administration has yet to address cruel Trump-era policies that have gutted protections for families and children escaping domestic violence and gang brutality. Until Attorney General Garland takes action to reverse these policies, speeding up asylum processing will make it even more difficult for families to find safety, further undermining any semblance of fairness.”

Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:  “The administration’s announcement of rocket dockets for immigration is concerning. In the past, such dockets have ensured the erosion of due process. Fast does not mean fair. Deportations for many are a death sentence. That the U.S. will prioritize speed over the rule of law on life and death decisions is appalling and something that all Americans should be concerned about. We ask the administration to rescind Title 42 expulsions and address deficiencies in immigration courts on the principle of fairness and access to protection rather than speed.” 

Karen Tumlin, Director and Founder of the Justice Action Center: “The Biden administration inherited a decimated asylum system. So did those of us serving asylum seekers and working to create welcoming communities. Today the Biden administration becomes the third administration to create a rocket docket system. History tells us that these systems don’t work and lead to unjustified denials of asylum. Efficiency is not the only thing the asylum system needs—first and foremost we need a functional asylum system that provides safety and justice for those fleeing persecution. Until we have that, touting the need for efficiency is tinkering at the edges of needed reform.”

Guerline Jozef, Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance said: “We are very concerned that the Biden administration has decided to use this fast-paced process for extremely vulnerable individuals who are fleeing extreme conditions. This will be specially detrimental to asylum seekers who are black and indigenous. ‘Build Back Better’ requires that we provide safety and protection for people seeking refuge. The Biden administration must end Title 42.”

Erik Garcia, Director of Organizing at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: “Families who have traveled thousands of miles seeking asylum from persecution and violence and lived in limbo for months or years as a result of cruel Trump-era policies deserve quick and efficient hearings. However, fairness should never be sacrificed for efficiency. The Biden administration must do everything in its power to ensure that asylum seekers have full legal representation and due process for their claims. It must also immediately end Title 42 and other policies that deny families and children the chance to find safety in our nation.”

 

Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity here.  

 

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 60 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org

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