FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 27, 2023
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BREAKING: Asylum Experts Denounce Key Aspects of Biden Administration’s Latest Asylum Announcement
WASHINGTON – Today, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken announced new regional asylum processing centers in South and Central America, and possibly other changes to U.S. immigration policy. The announcement is part of the administration’s asylum management plan to replace Title 42 restrictions, after they end on May 11.
“From an Indigenous Peoples perspective, many of the pieces at play do not work,” said Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Maya Mam, Executive Director, International Mayan League. “Most of our people do not speak Spanish, let alone English, so we know CBPOne will not an option for them. Further, only targeting smuggling, misinformation, and trafficking does not address the root causes of forced migration. An enduring and compassionate solution to forced migration must address the root causes of forced migration, and address the unique challenges Indigenous Peoples face when seeking asylum.”
“We welcome the Biden administration’s commitment to expanding refugee resettlement and other regular pathways in the Americas, but remain alarmed that the administration continues to pursue policies that punish people seeking asylum,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “The Biden administration should abandon its widely criticized plan to bar many refugees from asylum—a step that would be a legal, moral, and political mistake. Conducting credible fear interviews in Border Patrol custody, and imposing the planned bar to asylum, will turn a process designed to protect refugees from unjust deportation into a sham process that quickly returns to danger refugees who are eligible for asylum under U.S. and international law.”
“While Women’s Refugee Commission remains concerned about the Biden administration’s continued steps to drastically limit access to asylum at the US-Mexico border, we recognize that today the administration took some important steps that, if meaningfully and robustly implemented, could increase the availability of protection to those coming from Latin America and the Caribbean, said Savitri Arvey, Senior Policy Advisor at Women’s Refugee Commission. We welcome the Biden administration’s expansion of migration pathways—including more US refugee processing in the region and the expansion of the family reunification parole program for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia. More information is clearly needed on the newly announced Regional Processing Centers in Guatemala and Colombia, but we hope these efforts will make protections in the US and other countries more accessible to individuals in the region. As always, the creation of new processing centers and expansion of legal pathways must not come at the expense of access to asylum at the US-Mexico border.”
Lacy Broemel, Policy Analyst, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), said, “We urge the administration to be transparent with the public, refugee applicants, and resettlement partners as they implement these new pathways. At this time, we have more questions than answers. These new pathways must work in reality and not just on paper. We call on Congress to provide ample funding needed to implement rapid resettlement and family reunification processing. Expanding humanitarian pathways in the Americas is a necessary step, but we must ensure that this does not come at the expense of existing humanitarian protections.”
Added Bilal Askaryar, Interim Campaign Manager, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights: “While we welcome reports of increased pathways and access to protection for people from Central and South America, we also call on the administration to uphold our commitments to ensure full access to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Today’s announcement includes important steps forward to create additional pathways for people seeking protection in the United States. But such measures cannot come at the expense of access to asylum, no matter one’s origin, or whether one arrives by plane, or is forced to walk to the U.S. border. Under this plan, those seeking asylum will largely be met with rapid-fire processing, no meaningful access to lawyers or support to help them navigate their cases, and severe consequences for simply trying to apply for asylum. The administration must rescind its recently proposed rule that would severely curtail asylum–a proposed rule that #WelcomeWithDignity and thousands of partners commented on in opposition–and finally turn to measures that will welcome with dignity.”
Download a recording of the press conference here.
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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 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