FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2023
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One Month After Title 42 Ended, Powerful Video and Asylum Experts Offer Perspective on Biden’s Replacement Policy
Washington – One month has passed since the Biden administration replaced Title 42, the pandemic-era border restriction, with another asylum ban. Today the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights is releasing a must-see video, shot at the border as Title 42 was replaced by the Biden policy.
“There was no chaos, no disorder, just devastation,” notes the narrator, as members of a border delegation organized by the Haitian Bridge Alliance meet with migrants attempting to seek asylum in the U.S., a completely legal act. Yet as the video notes, many are blocked from safety by the Biden administration’s own border restrictions, which include requiring people to use an unreliable app to schedule an appointment for an interview. The video concludes, “It’s time to protect people seeking safety.”
Below, leaders working on both sides of the border, as well as policy experts, present their analysis about the state of asylum access one month after the end of Title 42.
“We continue to urge the Biden administration to address the systemic problems with the U.S. Border Patrol’s inhumane holding facilities that have already claimed the life of 8-yr-old Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez days after Title 42 ended. The callousness with which Border Patrol agents in recent months left several thousand asylum seekers in the open air, with little water, hardly anything to eat, and no services reflects the Biden administration’s continuance of deadly deterrence strategies that only increase suffering. It must center the protection of human rights for those migrating away from harm, not expand policies that exacerbate mistreatment and ban the right to asylum,” stated Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program.
“Systemic oppression, racism, and discrimination, which are an outcome of colonial legacies, violate Indigenous Peoples’ rights leading to forced migration. These factors reduce our peoples’ humanity in every colonial state that we migrate through, at imposed borders, and in destination communities,” said Juanita Cabrera Lopez, (Maya Mam) and Executive Director of the International Mayan League. “It is constantly assumed that we are extinct. When we assert our right to exist, our relevance as Indigenous Peoples is questioned. An asylum system rooted in inequalities and injustices must be fixed by addressing racism and discrimination. It is imperative that policy makers understand the ways in which these systems diminish Indigenous Peoples and treat us as disposable. Our right to exist is denied when we are not recognized as Indigenous in administrative processes that impact our right to life, safety, and due process. Our human rights are violated when we can’t access the “legal pathway” to asylum because of linguistic, literacy, and technological barriers, as is the case with CBP One app. The U.S. government cannot continue to develop and implement inhumane policies that violate due process for all asylum seekers, but in particular Indigenous refugees and Black migrants.”
“Since Title 42 ended, the Biden administration has touted the drop in migrants entering the United States through the southern border as a political victory. But at the border we see that access to asylum protection does not meaningfully exist for those who need it most. Instead of investing in rebuilding our asylum system, the Biden administration has chosen to resurrect failed cruelty-first tactics, including the Asylum Ban. Asylum is a human right. The process for exercising that right cannot be a lottery system that gives a chance only to a few while leaving the most vulnerable in danger,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, Immigrant Defenders Law Center Executive Director.
“The current restrictions that limit access to asylum are concerning,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “As we accompany asylum seekers at the border, we come to know their stories and the difficulties they experience in trying to find refuge. We understand that many have had to wait for extended periods of time while navigating the CBP One application, despite the threats of violence and exploitation as they wait to be processed. We urge the Biden administration to remember its promises to refugees and asylum seekers by providing safe and fair access to asylum without the burden of numerous restrictions.”
“One month post-Title 42, the majority of people seeking refuge at the southern border have no safe pathway to do so,” said Melissa Crow, Director of Litigation at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Instead of implementing a fair and humane asylum process, the Biden administration has reverted to unlawful policies that punish people for seeking protection. Families, children, and adults remain stranded in precarious conditions, with no end in sight. We implore the government to put human lives before political optics and immediately restore access to asylum at the southern border. Until that happens, we will see them in court.”
“Despite misguided prophecies offered by alarmists in the lead up to Title 42’s termination, the sky did not fall, but border encounters most certainly did,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “However, using border encounters as the sole metric of success does not accurately assess our nation’s adherence to its legal and moral obligations. It simply shows that the administration’s attempts to close the doors on those desperately in need of refuge are working. With Title 42 in our nation’s rearview mirror, we have an important opportunity to reevaluate our barometer for success. Do we continue to measure it by the number of people we deter, detain, and deport? Or will our leaders find the courage and conviction to gauge success in terms of the humanity, dignity, and due process afforded to people seeking refuge?”
“The Biden administration’s approach of imposing ‘consequences’ on those who ‘choose’ not to use lawful pathways to enter into the United States creates a false dichotomy of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ asylum seekers, when most asylum seekers are shut out of the lawful pathways they are required to use. The CBP One app that asylum seekers must use is completely inaccessible to Indigenous language speakers and often fails to register asylum seekers with dark skin tones. The administration must not give in to anti-immigrant politics, and should fulfill its early promises to fully restore the asylum system that the Trump administration dismantled,” said Victoria Neilson, supervising attorney at the National Immigration Project (NIPNLG).
“In the month that has followed the ending of Title 42, we’ve seen the administration and Congress make clear choices to reject opportunities to leave behind harmful and punitive asylum restrictions, and instead embrace policies that undermine due process and limit access to vital protection,” said Danilo Zak, Acting Director of Policy & Advocacy at CWS. “While the administration seems to want to brand its current approach a success, it is imperative to remember that lower arrival numbers at the border do not equal a successful policy—particularly with growing protection needs across the hemisphere. Community-based shelters in Mexico are overwhelmed and face dire conditions due to the harsh asylum restrictions the U.S. government has put in place. An approach that is causing the level of harm, confusion, and injustice that we are currently seeing can in no way be called a success. We call on this administration to rescind the asylum ban and work towards building humane reception infrastructure that provides financial support to community based organizations that are providing the necessary services to welcome people with dignity.”
“Ending Title 42 was the right thing to do, and its public health rationale was always a sham,” said Laurie Ball Cooper, U.S. Legal Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “However, replacing one harmful policy with another only perpetuates the danger, misery, and confusion people seeking safety at the border experience. Access to asylum for those seeking protection at the U.S.-Mexico border must be restored immediately, so that those in need can reach safety in dignity.”
“What we are seeing at the border is the resurgence of Draconian policies and practices that effectively deny access to asylum in violation of U.S. law and international treaty obligations. Vulnerable individuals and families are being forced to wait in dangerous conditions in Mexico while entering a daily lottery to receive an appointment to present at a U.S. port of entry. Others who enter outside a port of entry are subject to a ban on asylum with limited exceptions, many being rushed through a preliminary asylum screening while detained in deplorable conditions in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody without meaningful access to counsel. The Biden administration has opted to prioritize swiftly removing individuals over meaningfully adjudicating their claims to protection, making a farce out of the U.S. asylum system,” said Cindy Woods, National Policy Counsel at Americans for Immigrant Justice. “President Biden recently proclaimed June 2023 as National Immigrant Heritage Month, citing the importance of immigration to America and reiterating the Administration’s commitment to making the U.S. immigration system more orderly, safe, and humane. What is happening at the border is antithetical to the Administration’s stated goals and common ideals of human decency.”
“A month after the end of Title 42, it is abundantly clear that ending that failed policy was long overdue. But the Biden administration’s asylum ban is subjecting people seeking refuge to some of the very same dangers.” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director of Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “Every day that the Biden administration asylum ban remains in place, people seeking refuge in this country are left stranded in places where they are targets of kidnappings and violent attacks. The Biden administration must end its temporary asylum ban swiftly and maximize access to ports of entry for people seeking asylum, whether they manage to receive one of the lottery-like CBP One appointments or not. Instead, the administration should focus on strengthening regular pathways, regional refugee hosting and resettlement capacities, asylum adjudication staffing in the United States and refugee reception capacity both along the border and within the United States.”
“Title 42 unquestionably needed to end,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The last month has shown that it could end without the chaos so many predicted. But the Women’s Refugee Commission remains deeply concerned that the measures in the Biden administration’s asylum ban still make access to asylum impossible for many, leaving them trapped in profound danger and insecurity. While we strongly urge the administration to reverse course on those measures, it also needs to urgently expand capacity to process people seeking asylum at ports of entry and reduce the countless barriers those awaiting appointments in northern Mexico now face. While we’ve repeatedly welcomed the administration’s steps to expand additional migration pathways, we also reiterate that these must be more widely accessible to those who need them most, and should never come at the expense of those seeking protection at U.S. borders.”
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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