FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2023
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#NoAsylumBan Rally at the White House
Faith Groups and Advocates Demand President Biden Reverse Course on Asylum Ban and Enact Humane Solutions
**Recording on CASA’s Facebook**
WASHINGTON, DC – The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, CASA, HIAS, and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice—plus numerous partners—held a rally outside of the White House in protest of the Biden administration’s asylum ban. Faith groups and human rights organizations called on the administration to reverse course and implement humane, practical solutions instead.
If you missed it, check out the action on social media via Quixote Center; CASA (also here); Moms Rising (also here); United Church of Christ; Immigrant Justice Network; and more using #WelcomeWithDignity. View this gorgeous photo album from CASA. (Permission to use with photo credit: CASA.)
Bilal Askaryar, Interim Campaign Director, #WelcomeWithDignity; Haddy Gassama, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, UndocuBlack Network; Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA; Fernando “Fernie” Quiroz, director of the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition, Yuma AZ; Rabbi Sarah Bassin, Director of Clergy and Congregations, HIAS; Ronnate Asirwatham, Director of Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Kate Clark, Esq., Senior Director of Immigration Services, Jewish Family Service of San Diego (operator of the SD Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services); and Sandy Sorensen, Director United Church of Christ Washington Office. All speeches can be viewed here.
Said Bilal Askaryar, Interim Campaign Director, #WelcomeWithDignity: “We’re here to tell President Biden that people care about asylum. People care about the refugees at our doorstep. And we’re not going to let him get away with this.”
Fernando Quiroz, director of the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition, said: “Asylum is a right and there should be a humane way to do this. These individuals shouldn’t have to cross rivers, deserts, and mountains just to have the opportunity to turn themselves in at a port of entry and request asylum. I am an asylum seeker and I fled my country because of politics, communications, war; because of who I choose to love—so many reasons—and for those who have taken that long and difficult journey, how can we continue to shut that door? President Biden, open your heart!”
Haddy Gassama, National Director of Policy and Advocacy with UndocuBlack Network said: “As Black and brown people, we know all too well that all these systems of law, including asylum, were not designed to protect people who look like us. When the president of the United States goes to an active war zone and encourages countries to welcome asylum seekers and refugees, like he did this week in Ukraine, we know he’s not talking about people who look like us. There was no similar plea to the International Community for Afghans fleeing Taliban violence after decades of U.S.. violence. There was no similar plea to the International Community for Haitian migrants fleeing a country destabilized partly because of U.S. imperial action.
“But we also know that this country has the resources to welcome people safely, with dignity and compassion. If you have any doubts just like at the $800 billion-plus budget for defense of this country. So when the Biden administration tries to send away vulnerable populations, we know it is not about resources, we know it is not a matter of national security. It is a choice. A choice to be cruel and inhumane.”
Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA added: “We all know very well that these types of restrictions are systematically designed to favor wealthy and white immigrants, and leave Black and Brown immigrants out of the asylum process.”
“President Biden claims he is expanding pathways to asylum. However, the supposed pathways are death traps for people fleeing danger. This is an asylum ban. President Biden must revoke. Seeking asylum is legal in U.S law and is a human right,” said Ronnate Asirwatham, Director of Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.
“President Biden, why are you taking steps backward and banning asylum?” asked Sandy Sorensen, Director United Church of Christ Washington Office.
“I pray that we have the resilience to stay in this fight because justice is always worth the fight. Asylum is a human right,” said Rabbi Sarah Bassin, Director of Clergy and Congregations for HIAS.
In a Tweet in solidarity, Catholic Bishop Mark J. Seitz wrote: “I dream of the day we can set political calculations aside & put in place a safe, humane, welcoming system to receive immigrants at the border—a system that respects the God-given rights and dignity of asylum seekers & all those forced to migrate. #WelcomeWithDignity #NoAsylumBan.”
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of over 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. Follow us on Twitter @interfaithimm
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
With over 122,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.