Lankford and Sinema Side With Stephen Miller

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 7, 2022

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org

 

Lankford and Sinema Side With Stephen Miller

Continuing Title 42 means continuing a racist policy

 

Washington — In response to Senators Sinema of Arizona and Lankford of Oklahoma introducing a bill to keep Title 42 in place, the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign issued the following statement:

“Follow the science, not Stephen Miller,” said Melina Roche, Campaign Manager for #WelcomeWithDignity. “#WelcomeWithDignity and its partners are working with the Biden administration to create a fair, timely, and humane asylum system. We’ve done it before and will do it again: we can process asylum seekers in accordance with science-based public health measures and uphold the legal right of everyone to seek safety. We urge lawmakers to not let fear and xenophobia win, and instead to defend our nation’s values by welcoming the stranger with dignity.”

ON TITLE 42’S RACIST INTENT AND IMPACT:

“It is a sad day when Democrats offer, and solicit support for, a bill that would extend a bogus Trump/Miller health order that has no basis in public health policy,” said Thomas Cartwright of the Leadership Table of Witness at the Border. “All in the interest of selectively extending the exclusion of black and brown people desperate for refuge to assert their right to protection under US law while exceptions are made for others now daily. Selectively ignoring the rule of law that offers humanitarian protection to all people is not just disturbing, it smears a deep black mark onto the soul of this nation.”

“Senators Sinema and Lankford’s dehumanizing rhetoric and racist policy proposal in response to the end of Title 42 is cruel, immoral, and will put the lives of thousands of immigrants and refugees at continued risk. These politicians are using Title 42 to stoke fear and xenophobia and are turning their backs on the law and human rights,” said Tami Goodlette, Director of Litigation at RAICES. “The responses from politicians like Sinema and Lankford are not about the facts that we know about the pandemic, but rather blatant racism to prevent Black and brown people from seeking safety in the U.S. With the end of Title 42, communities and organizations at the border and across the country are ready to work with the Biden administration to restore our asylum system and welcome people seeking safety with dignity and open arms.”

“The Lankford-Sinema bill is a shameful ploy to weaponize the COVID-19 pandemic against people seeking safety,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “The bill would force the Biden administration to keep the deadly Title 42 policy in place, in violation of our laws and treaty obligations and in defiance of the CDC’s own scientific analysis. Advocates and border communities are ready to welcome people seeking asylum with dignity. Their congressional representatives should be standing with them, not taking radical steps to cement Stephen Miller’s racist legacy. Any lawmaker who professes to follow the science and honor the humanity of immigrants should wholeheartedly reject the Lankford-Sinema bill.”  

“Just as the United States Government cloaked its racism behind the guise of national security to incarcerate Japanese Americans during WWII, we have used the COVID health threat and the misapplication of Title 42 to target mostly black and brown refugees for exclusion and deportation,” said David Inoue, MPH/MHA, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League. “As we lift health restrictions to combat the COVID pandemic and continue to remain open to other foreign travelers, there is no justification to claim a public health emergency to continue excluding refugees. As we now understand the racism behind Japanese American incarceration advocates’ intentions, we must also recognize  the underlying racism and xenophobia driving afforts to extend Title 42.” 

“Stephen Miller took advantage of a global pandemic to replace our asylum system with an expulsion system under Title 42, intentionally causing additional human suffering and death,” said Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center. “Blocking a wind-down of Title 42 is tantamount to advocating for racism, xenophobia, and cruel, inhumane, and unlawful treatment of people who are fleeing for their lives and exercising their right to seek asylum. This is what the Sinema and Lankford bill represents. We must end Title 42 once and for all.”

ON THE LACK OF PUBLIC HEALTH JUSTIFICATIONS FOR TITLE 42:

“The CDC and health experts around the country have made abundantly clear – there is no public health justification for the Title 42 order, which caused great harm and is unnecessary for protecting the health of the public on either side of our borders,” said Sophia Simon-Ortiz, MPH, Senior Public Health Organizer for Human Impact Partners. “It’s beyond time to focus on rebuilding our communities and protecting public health as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, and not on returning to this indefensible, xenophobic, unequally applied, anti-Black, homo/transphobic Trump-era policy. Let the critical COVID funding go through and make the Title 42 order a shameful thing of the past.”  

“The CDC and public health experts have already made it clear that Title 42 has no public health standing. The Lankford-Sinema Bill is the latest attempt to appeal to unfounded fear instead of fact. The United States continues to put migrants’ safety and lives at grave risk, especially Black migrants who have been disproportionately impacted by Title 42,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “Congress must improve access to asylum – not enforce xenophobic policies at a time when asylum is needed more than ever for people fleeing conflict, whether in Ukraine, Cameroon, Haiti, or elsewhere.”

“As public health experts, we have known from the start that the Title 42 border closure, which was implemented despite objections from CDC medical experts, has no legitimate basis in public health evidence or data,” said Solange Gould, Co-Director, Human Impact Partners. “Over the last two years, the Title 42 order has wreaked havoc at the southern border, caused harm, and separated families under the guise of public health. The CDC’s decision today to end the cruel and racist Title 42 order for all migrants is an essential first step to ensuring the safety and dignity of people seeking asylum in the U.S. — but it’s just the start. All people seeking asylum deserve care, all have families and communities, and all have a right to health and safety. Public health experts are ready to welcome and work with people seeking asylum to strengthen the conditions we all need for health and safety.”

“As physicians, we know that Title 42 keeps nobody safe. We have public health tools to protect us from Covid. And Congress linking Title 42 to blocking covid vaccine funding only increases our risk,” said Dr. Kate Sugarman of Doctors for Camp Closure.

ON TITLE 42 BEING AN INEFFECTIVE AND CRUEL BORDER POLICY:

“By expelling asylum seekers to Mexican border towns, Title 42 is depositing them into the hands of violent drug cartels, enabling the cartels’ violent abuse and ability to extort them for thousands of dollars a person,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “Instead of continuing a program that funnels millions of dollars into the hands of the cartels every month, the U.S. should be assessing people’s protection claims.”

“For over two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has been used as an excuse to suspend the right to humanitarian protection for people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries,” said Pedro De Velasco, Director of Education and Advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative. “The CDC has determined that there is no longer any justification to keep this suspension in place- not that there ever was. These Senators are determined to maintain the inhumane and unjust Title 42 and with it, prolong the suffering of people who have been waiting for more than two years to be heard. We and other service providers are ready to collaborate with the U.S. government to welcome people seeking asylum. It is time to stop the excuses, stop the injustice, and to end Title 42 now!”

“In their attempt to keep Title 42 expulsions in place, Senators Sinema and Lankford have demonstrated that Title 42 was never truly about public health,” said Quixote Center Executive Director Dr. Kim Lamberty. “Deterrence-based migration policies have been shown time and time again to be ineffective at stopping migration. Rather than ‘secure’ the border, Title 42 only serves to terrorize migrant families and prevent asylum seekers from presenting themselves at U.S. ports of entry. We must seize the opportunity to build a fair, just, and orderly asylum system.”

“This attempt to keep in place the inhumane and unlawful Title 42 policy is bad decision-making on all accounts and plays politics with human lives,” said Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel for Refugee Protection of Human Rights First. “Every day that Title 42 remains in place will continue the chaos and disorder created by this expulsion policy. Lawmakers who support this bill have abandoned all pretense that it is justified on a public health basis and seek to continue what has not only been a catastrophic failure in terms of the gross human rights abuses it has caused, but also the detrimental impact on our border security. We urge all members of Congress to uphold the right to seek asylum and stand firm in rejecting policies of xenophobia.”

“On April 1st, we welcomed the Biden administration’s plan to end the immoral and inhumane Title 42 policy, which has been weaponized to expel over 1.7 million vulnerable individuals seeking refuge at the southern border without due process. We are deeply frustrated by this effort to keep Title 42 in place and strongly oppose this bill, which flies in the face of science all while ignoring the plight of those in desperate need of safety and their legal right to seek protection from persecution,” said Elissa Diaz, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service. “Not only does this bill put the displaced at risk, it puts desperately-needed COVID-19 programs in jeopardy by tying them to immigration policy. It is long past time for the United States to honor the legal right to seek asylum and facilitate the humane and safe reception of people seeking refuge. We urge Congress to reject this bill and instead affirm the need to welcome people seeking safety. Faith communities and border communities stand willing and ready to welcome asylum seekers.”

“Once again, Washington politicians exhibit how detached they are from the realities border communities experience every day,” said Elket Rodriguez, Immigrants and Refugees Advocacy and Missions Specialist for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Fellowship Southwest. “I will repeat what has been empirically proven ad nauseam: that expelling migrants and denying them access to asylum processing does not work to avoid the spread of COVID-19, deter migrants from seeking safety or address increases in border crossers. Quite the contrary, expelling migrants encourages repeat border crossers and increases the work of immigration officials.” 

“Title 42 was a Stephen Miller invention that weaponized U.S public health law to illegally deny people their right to seek safety in the United States, and the Biden administration was right to finally announce its end,” said Katharina Obser, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The Lankford-Sinema bill would normalize a policy that has never been nor should ever be the norm for the U.S. asylum system. Lawmakers should not tie critical COVID relief to immigration policies that fly in the face of U.S. values. We urge all lawmakers to reject efforts that will only result in further harm and chaos.” 

“Title 42 should never have been used to deny asylum-seekers the chance to seek safety in our country,” said Donna Norton, Executive Vice President of MomsRising. “Continuing its mis-use would force asylum-seekers who are fleeing violence, persecution and war to return to the dangerous conditions that forced them to come here, without even having their asylum claims considered. That would be cruel and indefensible. America’s moms want lawmakers to create a just and fair process for considering asylum claims that treats all parties with dignity, not to continue Title 42.”

“We must stop playing politics with people’s lives,” says Chelsea Sachau, Managing Attorney of the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project’s Border Action Team. “While we agree that there must be coordination between the government and NGOs to ensure a just and humane outcome, and in fact have been proactively seeking out opportunities for coordination for years, we do not believe there is any excuse to justify leaving people in harm’s way for even a moment longer.” 

The campaign’s recommendations to humanely restore our asylum system are available here.

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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