Doctors, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Judy Chu, and Black-led Organizations Urge Biden Restore Asylum and End Title 42

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 21, 2021

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | press@welcomewithdignity.org | 646-899-9722

 

Doctors, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Judy Chu, and Black-led Organizations Urge Biden: Restore Asylum and End Title 42

 

Washington Prominent public health experts spoke outside of the White House this morning to demand an end to the Biden administration’s misuse of public health regulations blocking people seeking asylum. Later in the day, Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Representative Judy Chu of California joined leaders from Black-led immigration organizations outside of the Capitol to echo the same demands, with a particular emphasis on the disproportionate harm Title 42 has on Black people seeking asylum. 

 

“We must be decisive and unapologetic in our efforts to dismantle racist and discriminatory policies, Title 42 is no exception. We know this policy has disproportionately singled out Black, Indigenous, and Latino asylum-seekers from Haiti, Africa, and Central America,” said Representative Ayanna Pressley (MA-7). “Forcing them to return to the very countries where they fled persecution and torture… The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti underscores the dangerous implications of the ongoing expulsions under Title 42. Yet in the early days of the Biden administration, more Haitians were expelled than during all of fiscal year 2020. We have the responsibility to change course… That’s why in my capacity as co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus I’ve called on DHS Secretary Mayrokas to halt Title 42 expulsions of Haitian asylum seekers.”

 

“The continued use of Title 42 is not helping our country fight this virus, and even worse, it’s actively hurting thousands of families, especially Black families,” said Representative Judy Chu (CA-27). “Not only was Title 42 misused as part of a war on immigrants, it has had a disproportionate impact on Black migrants of African descent still waiting for their cases to be heard. Without any legal pathway to protection, Black asylum seekers are stranded in Mexico where they face extreme danger as they are often alienated due to language barriers, and are subjected to racial discrimination. It’s especially important that we address this problem now in light of the recent political turmoil and violence happening in Haiti.”

 

“We stand in solidarity with the Haitian people who are going through tremendous pain. Two weeks ago, the Haitian President was assassinated in his home. Understanding the fear and concern the Haitian community at home and in the diaspora are experiencing, we ask for the immediate end to Title 42 to allow migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who are running for their lives to be able to get protection and be able to get safety,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “We applaud President Biden welcoming unaccompanied minors, and potentially families, however, that is leaving single adults behind. When it comes to Black migrants from the Caribbean, Haiti, LGBTQ members fleeing Jamaica, people from Cameroon, Eretria, Mauritania, literally fleeing slavery, must be protected. So as we stand today in solidarity we are asking President Biden to welcome people with dignity.”

 

“The cruelty of the continued Title 42 based expulsions must end. Eighty years ago, it was wrong to use a false security threat to incarcerate 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry and it is wrong today to use a false public health threat to expel people seeking safety and asylum in our country,” said David Inoue of the Japanese American Citizen’s League, (MPH/MHA). “We can choose now to give into racism and xenophobia that supports these harmful policies, or we can show in our actions and policy that we do believe in the ideal of the shining torch of the Statue of Liberty, that we welcome those who yearn to be free.”

 

“I treat people who come to the US fleeing oppression and violence. They are among those who are the most vulnerable to Covid-19. To cynically use Covid, in the teeth of public health and reliable science, to expel asylum seekers is beneath the dignity of those who claim to serve US residents. I am ashamed this cowardly policy exists,” said Dr. Zackary Berger, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Core Faculty, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Staff Physician, Esperanza Center Health Clinic.

 

“Blocking asylum-based entrance based on false public health claims builds from a long history in this country of scapegoating and targeting immigrant communities during pandemics and other crises by labeling them as carriers of disease,” said Dr. Vinu Ilakkuvan of Public Health Awakened. “In this way, this order also has the potential to further stoke anti-immigrant and racist sentiments in communities across the U.S. This poses another direct threat to immigrant communities’ health. In the current system, people who arrive at our borders seeking asylum are often confined and harmed, rather than supported and welcomed with dignity. We are calling for policies that provide what we all want for our communities: protection in the face of persecution, respect in the face of adversity, and safety and health in the face of numerous uncertainties. President Biden and the CDC have a mandate to protect public health NOT further harm. Ending the Title 42-based order is a critical first step in doing so.”

 

“As a practicing physician who tests and treats many patients who are infected with Covid, I know that the Title 42 ban on entry has no basis in science or public health,” said Dr. Kate Sugarman, . “Sending immigrants to Mexico to only be tortured, kidnapped and killed does not keep us safer. We must welcome with dignity those at our border. President Biden and Dr. Walensky, please immediately end Title 42 for everyone. All lives are sacred.”

 

A recording of Rep. Pressley and Rep. Chu’s remarks outside of the Capitol is available here.  

 

Photos from the public health press conference outside of the White House are available here. A recording can be viewed here.  

 

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 80 national and regional 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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