Advocates Welcome End Of Title 42; Demand Not One More Expulsion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2022

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org

ADVOCATES APPLAUD THE END OF TITLE 42; DEMAND NOT ONE MORE EXPULSION

The end of Title 42 is a welcome first step towards restoring our asylum system

 

Washington — The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign, the national campaign for asylum rights, welcomed the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control that it will terminate Title 42 on May 23rd. However, the campaign is deeply concerned that the government will continue to expel people fleeing persecution until then. The administration has rightfully exempted Ukrainians and unaccompanied children from expulsions during this period, and it must do so for all people seeking safety. 

 

“Ending Title 42 is both the morally right and legal thing to do, and the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign has tirelessly demanded its end as a crucial step toward the restoration of asylum for people fleeing for their lives,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “For more than two years, Title 42 has cruelly prevented people from exercising their legal and human right to seek asylum, leading to unconscionable harm including kidnappings, assault, and death. The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign looks forward to working with the Biden administration to create a system that lives by our nation’s values and laws as it ends this illegal policy in a humane and orderly manner. Our campaign also continues to urge the administration to ensure that not a single person fearing persecution or torture is expelled, and that all seeking safety are welcomed with dignity. We urge the administration in these next two months to be in close coordination with service providers as it prepares for the formal end of the policy, and to build the fair, just, and humane asylum system that we know is possible.”

“The announcement of an end to the Title 42 policy is a huge testament  to the perseverance of activists who have spent the past two years fighting against the draconian rule that forced people back into danger under the guise of public health constraints. Ending Title 42 will be an important first step in restoring our commitment to asylum and creating a humane system that treats people at our borders with dignity,” said Erin Mazursky, Interim Director of Families Belong Together. “However, today’s statements also confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security would not put a stop to expedited removals – which has wreaked havoc on Black and brown migrants – until the May 23rd expiration date. To be clear, every day Mayorkas and DHS allow expulsions puts people at risk of being kidnapped, raped or murder. That is the human cost of this policy. DHS has proven that they can act when vulnerable people around the world are facing violence– if we can open our borders to Ukrainian families escaping the horrors of war, we can do so for the Black and brown children, families and adults who have been fleeing similar violence and waiting at the border for months, or years, because of  this policy. The hypocrisy of continuing expulsions through May exposes the racism ingrained in our immigratoin system and  shows that Title 42 has never been about public health, and has always been about keeping certain people out. Enough is enough. The administration needs to end expulsions immediately. We cannot settle for anything less.”

 

“We commend today’s decision from the Biden administration to bring an end to the lawlessness of Title 42 at the border. Policies like Title 42 and Remain in Mexico are a white nationalist’s exploitation of a pandemic and is contrary to public health measures per CDC scientists,” said Linda Corchado, Interim Executive Director at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “Now is the time to do the real work of welcoming asylum seekers, uplifting the better angels of mercy, compassion, and due process that draw people to this country in the first place. Border communities will rise to this occasion again, no matter what challenges we face. It’s past due for the government to do the same.”

 

“We welcome and we applaud the news that the Biden-Harris administration is finally listening to the calls of advocates to terminate Title 42”, said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “This has been a long fight to restore access to protection for some of the most vulnerable people. Haitian Bridge Alliance has been advocating for an end to this Trump-era policy since April 2020 as a response to the increased expulsions of Haitian asylum seekers. As the Department of Homeland Security prepares to welcome our asylum seekers and refugees at the Southwest border with dignity on May 23, until then, we urge the administration to rethink their decision to continue to expel individuals back to unsafe conditions, especially to Haiti, without first determining standing for an asylum claim. In just a little over a year under this administration, over 21,000 people, including pregnant women and children have been sent to Haiti, most being expulsions. To welcome with dignity means that Title 42 ends for all, including for families and single adults of all nationalities, immediately. In addition, given the new asylum processing rule, we hope that part of the administration’s plan includes legal counsel and language services for all. As the only Black-led organization at the US-Mexico border, Haitian Bridge Alliance always stands ready to work with other border groups and the administration to ensure an orderly process free of discrimination.” 

 

“There is no reason why the Biden administration cannot immediately restart asylum processing at ports of entry as we have seen them do for countless Ukrainians since mid-March,” said Melissa Crow, Director of Litigation at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) and co-counsel in Huisha-Huisha, challenging Title 42 expulsions of families, and Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas, which successfully challenged the government’s policy of turning back asylum seekers at the southern border. “The administration has had 14 months to prepare and marshal the resources necessary. Moreover, our Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas litigation has revealed that the government has far greater capacity to welcome asylum seekers than they acknowledge. The administration should resume processing without delay, and in close coordination with humanitarian organizations assisting asylum seekers at the ground.”

 

“The CDC was right to end what has always been a discriminatory and politically motivated policy designed to shut down the US asylum system,” said Ari Sawyer, US border researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Over the next two months, the Biden administration should take meaningful steps to restore asylum at the border and begin processing in the thousands of asylum seekers who have been waiting for months or even years, often in life-threatening conditions, to exercise their legal right to seek protection. Biden has had more than a year to stand up humane processing at the southern border and should immediately coordinate with humanitarian organizations performing reception to welcome in rather than expel asylum seekers.”

 

“Today’s announcement by the CDC is deeply welcomed and would not have happened without the hard work of immigrant communities and advocates for the past two years,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director at Justice Action Center. “We expect the Administration to move swiftly to ensure that the CDC order becomes real in human terms and results in the ability of all people seeking safety to be able to present their asylum claims— regardless of where they were born, the color of their skin, or whether they have children. Today’s order does not erase the pain of the last two years. The administration is obligated to ensure that service organizations at the border are well-supported to welcome the backlog of asylum seekers who have had their rights denied for far too long. All asylum seekers expelled to danger under the Biden and Trump Administrations must be returned to the U.S. to present their asylum claims. Ending Title 42 is just one step towards restoring the fair, orderly, and humane asylum system that President Biden campaigned on. We cannot celebrate until our clients can.”

 

“The end of Title 42 addresses a pivotal redirection of the Biden administration’s immigration policy approaches,” said Dr. Jessica Hernandez, Climate Justice Policy Strategist for International Mayan League. “However, we ask that the Biden administration also centers the rights of Black and Indigenous peoples from Haiti and Central America to seek refuge in the United States. May they stop the border patrol’s excessive violent approaches used against Black and Indigenous peoples from Haiti and Central America. May they also stop separating families at the border and enacting this trauma that many of our children will take years to heal from. We are expecting more and demand more from the administration that made promises for a more just immigration reform. ”

 

“We commend the Biden administration for announcing the termination of Title 42, a harmful policy that has put asylum-seeking children and families at risk of unnecessary danger for far too long. We call on the Biden Administration and Congress to continue this critical work to create a more just and humane system for processing asylum claims for all who seek safe haven in our country,” said Christy Gleason, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children. “We stand ready to work with the US government, border communities and partner organizations to ensure that we can meet the needs at the border. We have the capacity and compassion to restore our asylum system for all seeking safety and protection. Now is the time to act.”

 

“While we are relieved that the Centers for Disease Control will not be renewing Title 42, the administration’s plan to phase out the policy is simply not enough. President Biden promised to restore our asylum system and should have ended Title 42 the day he took office. The administration has had more than 14 months to plan for the end of Title 42. Implementing a wind down instead of ending the policy outright and immediately will put asylum seekers, especially those who identify as Black and LGBTQIA(+), at continued risk. The rape, torture, and kidnapping of those expelled under Title 42 is well-documented and rampant, and with the CDC’s announcement, it will continue for two more months. That is unacceptable,” said Tami Goodlette, Director of Litigation at RAICES. People fleeing danger in their home countries have the legal right to seek safety and protection in the United States. To protect that right, the administration must do two things. It must immediately end Title 42 and all expulsions so that not one more person is subjected to the deadly and terrifying conditions created by this cruel and racist Trump-era policy.  And it must also  immediately restore the asylum process without expanding the country’s mass incarceration and deportation machine. For two years and under two administrations, the government has used Title 42 to block more than 1.7 million migrants from seeking safety at our border under the guise of public health. But Title 42 was never about public health and it needs to end right now.”

 

“While we commend the Biden administration for moving in the right direction, it is unacceptable to refuse to consider asylum cases over the next two months,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “Misusing the Title 42 health statute for the alleged purpose of creating a border processing system that is already in place shows a blatant disregard for our laws and treaty obligations.”

 

“We applaud CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for finally ending the inhumane and racist Title 42 order; however, we are disappointed by Secretary Mayorkas’s statement that Title 42 expulsions will continue until May 23rd,” said Dr. Kim Lamberty, Executive Director of the Quixote Center. “We continue to call on the Biden Administration to cease treating asylum seekers as criminals, and instead approach vulnerable children, families, and single adults with the dignity and care that they deserve. Over the next two months, the Biden administration must extend to Black and brown migrants fleeing violence in their home countries the very same welcoming that has been granted to Ukrainian refugees, and also work with communities and advocates to restore fair and just asylum processing at the border. “

 

“Title 42 has never been about protecting public health, but is instead an illegal and xenophobic attack on migrant rights that the Biden administration is right to end,” said Jennifer Babaie, U.S.-Mexico Border Program Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “The policy has amounted to a de facto asylum ban at the U.S.-Mexico border that has disproportionately impacted the ability of Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA people to find lasting refuge. Rather than wait until May 23, the administration should act quickly to end Title 42 and begin coordinating with local service providers immediately to expand processing capacity without relying on equally inhumane policies like Remain in Mexico, metering, or mass detention. IRAP also calls on the Biden administration to commit to never again misusing public health measures to restrict or deny the right to seek asylum. The response of neighboring countries to people fleeing the war in Ukraine has shown that it is possible to quickly and humanely welcome displaced people in need of safety, and the U.S. has an opportunity to model the same principles at its own borders.”

 

“Since March 2020, Title 42 has caused countless family separations at our border. The end of this cruel and unlawful policy, which denies people their legal right to seek protection, is a victory for everyone. It’s also an important first step to restoring asylum and correcting course to welcome and provide safe haven for people seeking protection,” said Young Center Senior Policy Analyst for Child Protection Mary Miller Flowers. “The Biden administration must work closely with border communities to end Title 42 swiftly and welcome migrants who have been denied safety for more than two years.”

 

“For the last six years, asylum seekers have been under assault by the U.S. government. Title 42 represents the greatest assault on access to the asylum process of our time. It caused chaos along the border, immeasurable harm to innocent people seeking protection in the United States, and diminished our nation’s global standing as a beacon of hope and safety. Ending the unjustified use of this policy is a long overdue step in restoring our nation’s values and history of welcoming those seeking protection. We should work toward creating a flexible humanitarian protection system that is safe, humane, and orderly—respecting the lawful right to seek asylum and that can respond in times of global displacement,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Senior Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council.

 

“This long-awaited change in U.S. immigration policy is the beginning of justice for asylum seekers who have been shunned by the U.S. government unfairly for far too long,” said Margaret Cargioli, Directing Attorney at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center.” While we wait for the implementation of this change to take place humanitarian parole applications for vulnerable asylum seekers must be processed. Additionally, it is incredibly important that the Biden administration distribute clear information to legal service and humanitarian organizations who are serving migrants on-the-ground to combat misinformation and inform people of how they can finally safely access our asylum system come May 23rd.” 

 

“Border communities welcome the news that we are seeing an end to Title 42,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute. “With strong collaboration and support from the administration, we can safely and humanely receive those seeking asylum. This is a moment not only to begin to rebuild, but to dream of a future where all those in need of protection are welcomed and protected with dignity and compassion. 

 

“Today’s announcement by the CDC that the Title 42 order will be terminated on May 23 is welcome news,” said Laura St. John, Legal Director of the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “This would not have happened without the courageous migrants who organized and protested against this policy and who marched in the streets as recently as last week in defense of their right to seek protection in the United States. Despite the relief we feel at today’s news, it does not change the horror that this policy has inflicted on tens of thousands of people for the last two years. We will continue to work tirelessly until every person seeking protection is able to do so, as is their right under U.S. and international law. We now call on the Biden administration to act swiftly to ensure that the planned return to humane, fair, and safe border processing lives up to this administration’s promises. That necessarily includes working openly and collaboratively with partner organizations on the ground, like ours, to welcome all people seeking protection with dignity.”

 

“The Biden administration’s termination of Title 42 is long overdue,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “From day one, Title 42 has been a bald-faced attempt to punish and endanger people seeking refuge, violating U.S. and international law in the process. As the administration embarks on its wind-down process, it must take immediate steps to protect lives.”

 

“President Biden made the morally and legally right – and politically popular – decision to end Title 42, a cruel and harmful vestige of the Trump era” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund. “We commend the Biden administration for moving to repeal this deadly and xenophobic policy. It is a significant step forward, even if it is long overdue.”

 

“JRS/USA welcomes today’s announcement that the Administration will terminate Title 42,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “Earlier this week, we released a statement in partnership with Jesuit law schools and other Jesuit institutions calling for an end to this harmful policy which has caused irreparable harm to the lives of more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers. Everyone has the legal right to petition for asylum in the United States and we look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the U.S. rebuilds and restores this critical system.”

 

“Today’s decision was the result of steadfast advocacy by Black and Brown immigrant leaders calling for a just and humane asylum system that upholds U.S. and international law and basic morality for everyone,” said Lisa Parisio, Director of Advocacy, of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC. “We will not forget the lives lost and those harmed by this illegal and racist policy. Now we call on the Biden administration to work quickly to ensure proper implementation of this decision and to go further and build an asylum system that welcomes all who are fleeing for their lives with dignity. CLINIC will continue to stand by asylum seekers and our partners to hold the Biden administration accountable to its promises and reject the politicization of human life.”  

 

Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice Western Massachusetts expresses relief that the Biden administration and CDC are finally working together to rescind the horrendously cruel Trump-led policy, Title 42.  As Jews, our commitment to upholding asylum rights in our country is steadfast.  We continue to urge our elected officials to treat all people fleeing persecution and violence with fairness, respect and humanity and uphold the national and international laws that protect the right to seek asylum, no matter what their country of origin, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.  We urge the administration to give careful thought to keeping families together, to expand the definition of family to include extended family members, to address medical, housing and nutritional needs of asylum seekers, to coordinate with service agencies already existing at points of entry, and to find our humanity within the flow of the legal process including timeliness and fair  due process”

 

“The new order is a huge step forward in the fight to ensure that people fleeing violence and persecution will once again be able to seek safety in this country, as our laws require. Title 42 has been misused for over two years to illegally shut down asylum at the southern border and send thousands of people directly back into harm’s way, said Jonathan Blazer, director of border strategies at the ACLU. “With an end date for Title 42 now set, it’s time for the Biden administration to fulfill its campaign promises to build an asylum system that is just, humane, and in line with our values as a nation. This must include a restart to asylum processing at U.S. ports of entry and stronger partnership with groups providing humane reception services at the border. The federal government has the resources and capacity to screen people seeking asylum safely, fairly, and accurately. All that remains is for President Biden to exhibit the political will to make it happen.”

 

“Finally, we can look forward to the end of the Title 42 policy, one of the most inhumane immigration policies ever implemented at the U.S. southern border. While PHR welcomes the CDC’s plans to rescind this harmful order, it’s critical that the U.S. government acknowledge its misuse of public health to deny the right to seek asylum for more than two years, and to ensure that racist and xenophobic narratives cannot be wielded again to end asylum at the border, in contravention of U.S. and international law,” said Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, medical director at PHR and professor of internal medicine and public health at the University of Michigan. Since March 2020, PHR has joined countless public health experts in calling for an end to the Title 42 border expulsion order: there is simply no epidemiological evidence to justify banning only asylum seekers from the United States while keeping the borders open to other travelers. In reality, the scientifically baseless and politically motivated order has severely harmed the health and human rights of children, families, and single adults by exposing them to violence, separating families, and inflicting acute medical and psychological impacts on asylum-seeking children and adults, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. As medical and public health experts, we affirm that there is not now, nor ever was, a public health justification for Title 42 expulsions. The United States needs to ensure a trauma-informed and rights-respecting approach to border management and asylum processing moving forward.” 

 

“For too long this inhumane and xenophobic policy forced or returned the world’s most vulnerable to danger, its termination is a vital first step towards removing a policy rooted in fear and hate. While we welcome this decision, we call on the administration to immediately halt all expulsions of asylum seekers and work closely with groups and communities who have continuously stood ready to welcome them, including faith communities.” said Elissa Diaz, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy. “Title 42 weaponized the COVID-19 pandemic, operating under the guise of public health to forcefully block access to safety from over a million men, women and children. Public health experts, including former CDC officials, consistently stated this illegal and immoral policy lacks rationale, and further harms individuals seeking safety. Each day it remains in place and expulsions continue, lives remain in danger—with a disproportionate impact on Black migrants and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We urge the administration to honor its commitment to restore and expand a just and humane asylum system that welcomes people with dignity, without discrimination.”

 

“It is a relief that President Biden has heard immigrants, advocates and faith leaders call to end the Title 42 expulsion policy. However, we are dismayed at the delay in terminating this policy. For many asylum seekers, especially Black immigrants at our southern border, delay means danger and death, said Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.  “The Biden administration has had two years to prepare for the end of Title 42. We call on the Administration to work with our faith and secular colleagues who are ready to welcome immigrants at the border as partners in order to restore a humane and just asylum system.” 

 

“We applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to finally end Title 42, which for two years has caused untold harm and denied protection to people seeking safety at our borders,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG Co-director. “The decision to turn the page on this cruel policy is long overdue. We now urge the Biden Administration to act quickly and rather than wait two months, begin coordination with organizations to wind down the policy immediately. Continuing expulsions in the meantime will only mean more suffering for families and adults. The end of Title 42 should mean the establishment of a fair, orderly and humane process at our border allowing men, women, families and children a chance to make their claims heard. It is time, once again, for the United States to be a beacon to those seeking refuge from around the world.” 

 

“For two years, advocates have been fighting for an end to Title 42 and restoring our asylum system so that families seeking refuge can do so in our country. Today, we can finally welcome the announcement we have been waiting for about the end of Title 42 by May 23rd,” said Basma Alawee, Campaign Manager at We Are All America. “While there is still more to be done to restore our asylum system, ending Title is a massive win for many families and individuals seeking safety. Now, it is up to us to welcome asylum seekers with dignity.”

 

“The Women’s Refugee Commission commends the Biden administration for finally committing to lift this unlawful, cruel policy that has turned so many families and adults back to harm,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We will be watching closely to ensure that the administration follows through on that commitment. Over the next two months, the administration must meaningfully support and diligently coordinate with local humanitarian service providers to ensure that people seeking asylum have the support and welcome they need, and avoid any measures that punish or create additional obstacles to asylum. We urge the Biden administration to immediately cease expulsions to torture or persecution and build an asylum system that is just, orderly, and welcomes those seeking protection with dignity, including at ports of entry.”  

 

“The Advocates for Human Rights welcomes today’s long-overdue announcement of the administration’s plan to end Title 42. The program has been disproportionately used to deny Black and brown people access to protections guaranteed under international human rights law. There is no reason to wait until the end of May, and the United States must immediately ensure no one is returned to face persecution, torture, or other human rights violations in their home countries or elsewhere. But the United States must do more than not violate international law. We need to build a humane reception system that safely and quickly registers people seeking protection at the U.S. border, rejects the use of immigration jail, and provides community-based support so people understand their legal rights and obligations, as they wait in safety for their cases to be decided. And we need a fair, effective, and timely system that ensures protection consistent with refugee and human rights treaties and an opportunity for asylum seekers to support themselves and their families while they wait for a decision.” Said Michele Garnett McKenzie from The Advocates for Human Rights

 

“We welcome the decision to terminate this horrific policy which has inflicted grave human rights abuses on people seeking refuge in the United States, and urge a swift and final end to this humanitarian travesty,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “During the termination implementation period, the Biden administration should quickly restart asylum at ports of entry, end the discriminatory double standards in access to asylum and halt expulsions of asylum seekers to persecution and torture immediately. After two years of tracking the brutal kidnappings, torture and assaults inflicted on the victims of Title 42, we know all too well that human lives are on the line.”   

 

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 95  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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