FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2023
Press Contact: Bilal Askaryar | BilalA@wrcommission.org | 646-899-9722
Bishop Seitz of El Paso, Community Leaders Ask Biden to Reverse Course on Asylum Ban, Discuss Intersection with Child Forced Labor
WEBINAR RECORDING BELOW
WASHINGTON – The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign for asylum rights held a Zoom press event with the Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso and other prominent faith and community leaders, calling on President Biden to reverse course on his proposed asylum ban.
Download a recording of the webinar here (passcode k16Q&kmq). Following are quotes from participants.
Said Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, D.D., Sixth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso: “As a Bishop on the border, I am deeply troubled by this new asylum-limiting proposal from the administration. This policy is a significant step backwards at a time when we really need meaningful reform. It is also a policy that perpetuates the misguided notion that heavy-handed enforcement measures are somehow a solution to the realities at the border. Decades of similar approaches have demonstrated otherwise. The Catholic Church in the United States has consistently rejected policies that weaken asylum access for those most in need of relief and expose them to further danger. Because that is the likely result of this proposal, I strongly oppose its implementation.”
Added Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights: “For the Jewish community, we understand that immigration policy is a matter of life and death… We can’t let history repeat itself. We’re going to be loud in our insistence that people seeking protection were created in the image of the divine. The Biden administration wants to reject more people and send them back to danger. If they move forward with this ban, it will be a violation of our nation’s legal and moral obligations. Instead of implementing this rule, they must prioritize the protection of human rights over all else.”
Haddy Gassama, Esq., National Director of Policy and Advocacy, UndocuBlack Network said: “Immigration is a Black Issue. The Biden administration opened Black History Month with the deportation of Haitian migrants, dropped this inhumane proposed rule in the middle of Black History Month, and is closing out the month by doubling down on Trump’s xenophobic legacy and deporting more Black migrants.
“Because of visa interview backlogs in many Black majority countries, and the lack of asylum infrastructure and general anti-Black sentiments in many South and Central American countries, it is near impossible for Black migrants to seek safety in any of the countries that they pass through to get to the U.S. The proposed asylum ban confirms what many Black immigrant organizations have highlighted in the last few years. In spite of campaign promises to be an administration that would prioritize racial equity, Biden does not care about Black immigrants.”
Mario Bruzzone, Senior Policy Advisor with the Women’s Refugee Commission, discussed the problem of child labor and exploitation, and the fact that this would be further exacerbated by asylum bans that prevent parents from accessing safety with their children.
He said: “The child-labor abuses documented by the New York Times and Reuters are the horrifying but predictable outcome of a broken protection system that should prevent such abuses. Responses to these shocking revelations must include accountability from the companies that hire children and the companies that permit them to work, including the brands that profit from child labor.
“The proposed asylum ban would force thousands of families into the horrifying decision of whether an intact family will lack protection, or whether a single member—a child—should try to get protection alone. This puts children in situations where they are vulnerable to the harms of family separation, and in locations where they are more vulnerable to exploitation. For this and many other reasons, the asylum ban should not go forward.”
Kerri Talbot, Deputy Executive Director at the Immigration Hub, said “This asylum ban is not only cruel but it will also create chaos at the border. Many refugees will be forced to wait in camps in Northern Mexico in dangerous conditions. Resourcing and reforming asylum is necessary; undermining America’s core commitment to offer asylum and safety to those fleeing persecution and violence is not.”
The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 100 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