#WelcomeWithDignity: Court Ruling Will Endanger Families Seeking Safety; Biden Must End Title 42
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2021
#WelcomeWithDignity: Court Ruling Will Endanger Families Seeking Safety; Biden Must End Title 42
Washington — Yesterday the D.C. Circuit Court granted the government’s request for stay in Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, allowing the Biden administration to continue expelling families and children to danger under its inhumane Title 42 policy. Two weeks ago a federal judge ruled Title 42 illegal, issuing an injunction that would have taken effect today. The Biden administration’s decision to continue defending the policy in court has put that injunction on pause. The consequences for families and children seeking safety will be deadly.
Members of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign, which include organizations serving people expelled under Title 42 and litigators in the Huisha-Huisha case, responded to the ruling:
“The Biden administration should have never appealed this case,” said Tami Goodlette, Director of Litigation at Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and co-counsel in the Huisha-Huisha case. “The lower court concluded Title 42 was illegal and should not be applied to exclude families from seeking asylum in the U.S. But rather than allow families to seek refuge in our country — which is legal under U.S. law and international law — the administration chose to further promulgate the Trump administration’s racist and xenophobic policies by appealing the case, and then proceeding to expel thousands of Haitians from Del Rio, Texas under Title 42. The Biden administration has lost its way and needs to remember its promises from the election. Migrants deserve better. Our country deserves better.”
“The Biden administration’s embrace of Title 42 has exposed people seeking safety to untold violence and suffering,” said Neela Chakravartula, Managing Attorney at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and co-counsel in the Huisha-Huisha case. “The administration’s decision to defend the policy in court is unconscionable, and a complete betrayal of the president’s promise to restore access to asylum. Recent events have laid bare the tragic consequences of Title 42. In less than two weeks, the administration has expelled over 5,000 Haitians to a country plagued with widespread violence and insecurity – a human rights travesty, and no small operational feat. They could have used those resources to safely welcome Haitians seeking refuge. Instead, the president has adopted Trump’s racist policy as his own, without regard for the families and children harmed as a result.”
“Just days after witnessing images of the horrific abuses of Black migrants seeking safety at our borders under Title 42, it is disturbing that the Biden administration would continue to maintain and defend this callous policy harming people seeking refuge,” said Avideh Moussavian, director of federal advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center. “That last night’s ruling came on the same day that DHS issued new enforcement priorities that arbitrarily and unjustly label people as threats to border security based solely on their attempt to enter the U.S. – often under the most vulnerable and desperate circumstances – speaks to this administration’s deeply harmful focus on deterrence. We will continue to fight this policy and others that disproportionately impact Black and LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and push to hold this administration accountable to its promise to build a 21st century immigration system that centers the dignity of everyone.”
“All President Biden needed to do to stop applying Trump’s Title 42 to families was not seek a stay or appeal, but they did,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, Immigrant Defenders’ Co-Founder and Executive Director. “Expelling families with kids and other asylum seekers back to the dangerous countries they have fled with no due process is now a Biden policy, one that the Biden Administration fought hard to keep.”
“Abusing an obscure public health rule to shut down our asylum system is Stephen Miller’s racist legacy. Every day that the Biden administration allows this policy to remain in place is a day that the government knowingly puts children and families in harm’s way. What we witnessed at Del Rio last week is a stark reminder of just how violent this policy is. It’s an insult to America’s family values that within the past month thousands of Haitians — including babies and toddlers — have been expelled back to danger,” said Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together. “The Biden administration should live up to its promises and end Title 42 immediately. The world is watching Mr. President: we should be protecting children and families, not expelling them back to danger.”
“What we know about Title 42 after a year of witnessing its impact firsthand at the border is this: it puts vulnerable migrants in danger, it violates asylum law and it empowers criminal groups to take advantage of those who are expelled,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of Hope Border Institute. “Title 42 was the driving force behind the mass deportations of Haitian refugees, one of the largest mass expulsions in U.S. history. The court’s decision yesterday was a troubling denial of the reality at the border and the unnecessary suffering of the families we are putting in harm’s way.”
“The Florence Project is dismayed that a court has granted the Biden administration’s request to halt a court order that would have protected families seeking protection in the United States,” said Chelsea Sachau, an attorney with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “People we meet on the Arizona-Sonora border tell us every day that Title 42 puts them in extremely dangerous situations. Asylum seekers tell us that they want to abide by a safe, orderly asylum process. However, despite campaign promises to the contrary, the Biden administration has failed to give them one, even after nine months in office. In fact, they are fighting tooth and nail to defend this indefensible, Trump-era policy and as a result, to prolong the tremendous human suffering it causes. We can welcome asylum seekers safely and with dignity – the Biden administration is choosing not to at every single opportunity.”
“The Biden Administration’s continued defense of Title 42 and its ongoing, devastating effects on human rights at the U.S-Mexico border, which includes over 5,400 Haitians unjustly and cruelly expelled pursuant to these policies within the last 11 days, is outrageous and unconscionable. We will not rest until these practices are eliminated and full reparations have been made to all those who have been affected by these serious human rights crimes,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, on behalf of the leadership team of Witness at the Border.
“Title 42 was a disgrace under the Trump Administration, and now, a disgrace under the Biden Administration,” said Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center. “The unlawful and immoral policy has never been about protecting public health, but rather, the power to summarily expel asylum seekers back to the very danger they are fleeing. That the Biden Administration would deliberately pursue to uphold the application of Title 42 to children and families is particularly shameful, and immigrant communities and advocates will continue to call on President Biden to end this immoral and unlawful policy once and for all.”
“The D.C. Circuit court’s decision, which allows the Biden administration to continue to shut the door to people seeking protection and send them back to harm without due process, is beyond disappointing, it is devastating,” said Luis Guerra, CLINIC’s Strategic Capacity Officer. “We will continue to urge the Biden administration to take bold action at our border by creating safe and dignified pathways for those seeking protection and stop hiding behind and upholding the xenophobic policies of the prior administration. The continued use of Title 42 is shameful, unconscionable and simply inhumane; President Biden has the power and means to end it today. Continuing Title 42 is an absolute affront to our laws and our humanity.”
“The calls come daily, a young journalist in Nicaragua whose life is being threatened because of his political views, a mother and her two young children who watched her brother’s murder by cartel and was told they were next, the thousands of people standing on the other side of a horrific wall seeking refuge from climate disasters, violence, and so much more, all turned away because of a public health law dug up by Stephen Miller to forward his racist agenda”, said Laurie Benson, Founder of Madres e Hijos. “Every day that the Biden Administration fights to keep this policy in place is a day that they put politics before people, political agendas before humanity.”
“While yesterday’s decision from the court was disappointing, ultimately nothing is preventing the Biden administration from doing the right thing and choosing to end its use of Title 42 to expel families and adults seeking protection at our border,” said Ursela Ojeda, Senior Policy Advisor for Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Title 42 is an unlawful and xenophobic Trump-era policy that weaponized public health to shut down access to protection at the border. We are outraged by the Biden administration’s decision to continue such expulsions which summarily return vulnerable individuals and families to harm and perpetuate suffering and chaos at the border. We call on the administration to finally restore access to asylum, including by reopening ports of entry.”
“The Biden Administration’s embrace of Title 42 is so absolutely maliciously evil because they’ve done that political calculus that this obscure policy is just complex enough to never grip the mainstream media’s and public’s full attention so the government can just continue harming immigrants without being held accountable,” said Jonathan Goldman, Executive Director of the Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice. “There is no excuse here. They are complicit in the harm started by Trump. The Biden Administration has not simply continued the policy, which would have been bad enough, but they’ve actively attempted to keep it alive.”
“The Biden administration’s continued embrace of Title 42 expulsions defies domestic and international law, disregards experts’ repeated advice on how to handle public health, and puts families and individuals in danger,” said Andrew Geibel, Policy Counsel at HIAS. “Its continued use, including its use to deport over 5,000 vulnerable Haitians back to a country that cannot properly integrate them, shocks the conscience. The Biden administration should end this appeal immediately.”
“The federal court of appeals ruling allowing the Biden Administration to continue migrant expulsions at the border under Title 42 is a major disappointment,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service USA. “When President Biden campaigned in 2020, he promised he would repair our asylum process and rebuild it from the Trump Administration’s attempts to dismantle it and prevent asylum seekers, as well as refugees and other immigrants, from entering the United States. Instead, he is continuing some of the Trump Administration’s worst policies. Rather than defending and legitimizing President Trump’s legacy, the Biden Administration should be putting more policies in place based on respect for international law and the United States’ legacy of welcoming the stranger and providing safety for those fleeing persecution. Title 42 represents the complete opposite.”
“Once again, the Biden Administration has shown that it is more committed to defending Title 42 than upholding the human rights of asylum seekers,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “The continued weaponization of the pandemic to expel people from our border will result in serious harm for the thousands who have been denied protection, including thousands of Haitians who have been brutalized and expelled under the policy in recent weeks. There is simply no way around it – Title 42 must end, and every day the Biden Administration fights to uphold it, they choose xenophobia and racism over protecting human rights.”
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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 85 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