FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2023
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Outpouring of Anger As Title 42 Ends, Replaced With New Asylum Ban
WASHINGTON – Today should be a day of celebration, as the pandemic-era Title 42 entry ban will finally be lifted at the U.S./Mexico border. Today should be a day that the U.S. resumes being a beacon of hope for people in search of safety. Instead, the Biden administration is replacing one asylum ban with another. Below, advocates react to the end of Title 42 and the steps the Biden administration is taking in its stead. Read about real solutions from asylum experts here.
“The Biden administration’s announcement of sweeping measures that are ‘humane’ are actually militarization and detention strategies that will likely lead to expedited removal of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous asylum seekers, resulting in deaths of our peoples. For Indigenous peoples the urgency to seek refuge did not start now. Forced displacement of our peoples has occurred for more than 500 years,” said Juanita Cabrera Lopez (Maya Mam Nation) and Executive Director of the International Mayan League. “In Iximulew (Guatemala) we are living in what we call the fourth era of dispossession and displacement. This current violence is due to transnational corporations and state sponsored violence, conditions reminiscent of the 1980s, the civil war, and genocide. That is why we flee, because we are persecuted, treated as invaders in our own ancestral lands. We ask the Administration, how are we to ask for asylum from the same countries that persecute us when these systems don’t even recognize our Indigeneity and our Indigenous languages? As we have done for centuries, we will continue to advocate for our right to exist, to live without fear and free of violence and jointly work with allies to craft these legal and dignified solutions. The U.S. must uphold its basic human rights obligation and be held accountable.”
David Miliband, IRC President, and CEO stated, “The end of the cruel and ineffective Title 42 policy is a necessary step to restore the rule of law and compliance with U.S. refugee obligations. The Biden administration has taken some important measures to build an effective asylum management system, including increased regional resettlement processing, expanding access to the CBP One app, clamping down on misinformation, guaranteeing asylum slots for refugees from four countries, and surging assistance to communities receiving migrants. However, these efforts are undermined by a serious flaw: the IRC believes it is neither right nor practical to render illegal any attempt to claim asylum that is not based on a prior appointment.”
“The lifting of Title 42 is years overdue, since the measure had no public health rationale, violated American laws and values, put asylum seekers lives at risk and expelled more than two million people—without the asylum screening required by law—since 2020,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “But while we are pleased to see the end of this inhumane policy, as a Jewish humanitarian organization that, for over 120 years, has witnessed the calamitous effects of denying protection to refugees, HIAS cannot accept the restrictions the administration intends to implement after Title 42—including the asylum ban and the resurrection of expedited removal, which jails asylum seekers and denies them due process. We renew our call on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan that will balance the need for efficient processes and security at the border with the fundamental rights of people seeking protection in the United States. Until that happens, the Administration can and must protect the integrity of the US border without returning asylum seekers without a proper screening.”
“I’ve been accompanying people on the move, including those fleeing violence, for nearly a decade here at the border,” said Joanna Williams, Executive Director for the Kino Border Initiative. “I’ve seen many iterations of the U.S. government’s attempts to make the process of seeking safety more arduous and painful for the men, women, and children here. Through it all, I only grow more convinced that it doesn’t have to be this way. We live in a vibrant binational community that has the capacity to welcome people with generosity. The individuals and families who are fleeing violence have dreams for themselves and their children that can make our communities in the US more dynamic. As Title 42 ends, may we as a community, nation and society reject exclusion and choose welcome.”
“After over three years and over two million expulsions of people exercising their human right to seek safety, Title 42 is finally ending. What should be a day of celebration is instead the start of new border measures that threaten the human rights of people seeking safety,” said Paul O’Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. “The Biden Administration had over two years to invest in systems of welcome and safety so that people arriving at our border could enter in a humane and orderly fashion and pursue their asylum claims in communities, supported with legal and social services. Instead, the Biden Administration has turned its back on human rights and is planning on implementing new, draconian border measures that will threaten to return people to harm, increase immigration detention, and force people to wait in danger in Mexico until they are lucky enough to make an appointment via a problematic app. Amnesty International USA calls upon the Biden Administration to abandon the asylum ban and instead invest in systems of welcome.”
Bilal Askaryar, Interim Campaign Manager of the Welcome With Dignity campaign for asylum rights said: “We’ve been calling for the end of Title 42 for years. A delegation of human rights leaders traveled to the border to mark this moment, and we’re seeing one deadly policy replaced with another. This rule would have turned away my family when we were seeking asylum. It will turn away refugees whose only option is to walk to our border and ask for protection. President Biden’s abdication of his moral obligation to refugees seeking asylum is shameful.”
“Title 42 was cruel, endangered the lives of millions seeking safety, and created chaos at the border. We welcome its long-overdue end,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. “For nearly three years, Title 42 has denied people seeking safety their legal right to apply for asylum. Our staff have witnessed and documented the dangerous and even deadly impact of this policy, particularly on the most vulnerable populations. Yet we cannot meet the end of one horrific anti-asylum policy with another that will create impossible burdens on those seeking safety. We urge the Biden administration to reverse course with the asylum ban rule, and instead to create a dignified and fair asylum system that we know is possible.”
“The ability to seek asylum is a fundamental human right. It should not be based on nationality or one’s capacity to secure an appointment through an app,” affirms Carolina Jiménez Sandoval, President of the Washington Office on Latin America. “Increasing legal pathways for migration includes expanding, not limiting, access to asylum, yet the measures announced by the Biden administration as Title 42 ends will return countless migrants to danger in their home countries or in Mexico.”
“As the Title 42 policy that harmed millions of people expires, we wish we were celebrating a return to a rights-based immigration policy that complies with our laws and upholds the dignity of people seeking safety in the United States,” said Abby Maxman, President & CEO of Oxfam America. “But the Biden administration is instead erecting new barriers to safety—including a xenophobic and misguided asylum ban—for people fleeing persecution. This nation can and must welcome those who come to our country in search of safety. Oxfam America is in solidarity with all people seeking asylum and will work with them and on their behalf to ensure that President Biden keeps his promise to ‘reassert America’s commitment to asylum seekers and refugees.’”
“Since the Trump administration first used Title 42 under specious arguments about public health to bar asylum seekers, and throughout the Biden administration, Human Rights First has advocated for the repeal of that inhumane and illegal policy,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “While the end of its use could be a cause for celebration, the Biden administration decision to replace Title 42 with new onerous bars to asylum is an irresponsible detour into nativist politics that will only perpetuate the cruel and dangerous situation at the southern border of the United States.”
“While we agree with the end of Title 42, we need to make sure that we are rolling out a coordinated plan that is good for those who are seeking safety in the United States and those who are trying to assist them,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “Our focus remains on those who are trying to request asylum according to our laws, helping them on the next step of their journey to safety.”
“The Title 42 expulsion policy was an unprecedented and unlawful policy which sealed the border to asylum seekers and subjected them to unfathomable suffering,” said Professor Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. “For over three years, first Trump, then Biden used the pandemic as a pretext to turn its back on people fleeing persecution and torture. The long overdue end of Title 42 should have ushered in a fair and humane asylum process at the southern border consistent with U.S. law. Instead, the Biden administration has put in place yet another policy that violates the rights of desperate people seeking safety. We will keep fighting for a system that welcomes people fleeing danger with dignity and compassion.”
“In response to the end of Title 42, the Biden administration is prioritizing deterrence over due process and introducing a patchwork of new policies effectively restricting access to asylum for large swaths of vulnerable migrants,” said Cindy Woods, National Policy Counsel at Americans for Immigrant Justice. “These policies include the reintroduction of an asylum ban for individuals who do not utilize limited parole pathways or seek asylum in another country before reaching the United States, the increased use of expedited removal and truncated credible fear interview processes, and the reliance on a faulty smartphone app (CBPOne) for scheduling appointments to present at a Port of Entry. The end of one inhumane border policy should not result in the implementation of numerous others.”
“For nearly three years, Title 42 has been used as a barrier to block people from seeking asylum through the southern border,” said Swapna Reddy, Co-Executive Director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP). “It is a racist, unlawful measure that has separated families and harmed many ASAP members who are trying to find safe haven in the United States. Asylum seekers are not a threat to the health and safety of the United States, but rather, some of the most significant contributors to its economic and social success. While ASAP welcomes the long overdue end of this program, we encourage the Biden administration to welcome asylum seekers with dignity. That means allocating more resources to processing asylum applications and work permits instead of deploying deterrence tactics that have been proven ineffective time and again.”
“The end of Title 42 presents an opportunity to do better – to look back at the horrors of the past years and reject it; to live into our values of being a welcoming country; to reaffirm a commitment to upholding the basic human right to seek asylum; and to welcome and embrace those who seek refuge in the United States,” said Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project. “Unfortunately, the Biden administration is instead poised to entrench racist policies that cut off access and endanger people’s lives. But there is still time to do better. We hope the administration will change course and see the end of Title 42 as a moment to elevate the values of humanity and compassion in our approach to the border, and to restore the basic human right to seek refuge in the United States.”
“The long-awaited end of Title 42 expulsions at the border should be a cause for celebration and relief; and we welcome the end of a policy that was based in cruelty and persecution. The end of Title 42 represents a vital crossroads in which we can free ourselves from the cycle of punitive and deterrence-based policies and turn with conviction towards humane solutions that would effectively and compassionately manage the border,” said Danilo Zak, Associate Director of Policy And Advocacy. “However, we continue to hold deep concern regarding proposals by both Congress and the administration to instead replace Title 42 with further restrictions on asylum. These proposals would increase disorder, return at-risk migrants to danger, and do nothing to address the challenges we face. With every step forward, the Biden administration is choosing to immediately take two steps back. As Title 42 ends, we call upon the Biden administration and Congress to reject asylum bans and restrictions and instead to invest in our capacity to welcome people with dignity.”
“Sadly today there is nothing substantive to celebrate. Instead we must reaffirm our collective commitment as defenders of human rights against the militarization of borders, the securitization of migration policies, the criminalization of migrants, the outsourcing of the deadly politics of enforcement and deterrence to Mexican territory and throughout the hemisphere, and all of the ways that neoliberal, extractivist, and militarist policies promoted by the US intensify the root causes of forced migration in the Americas and globally,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, Executive Director of the National Lawyers’ Guild (San Francisco Bay Area chapter). “We must instead stand here and throughout the world against all forms of racism and xenophobia, and in defense of the rights to asylum, refuge, humanitarian protection, sanctuary, hospitality, and sanctuary, without borders, and for universal recognition of the right to migrate and not to be forcibly displaced.”
“By marking the end of Title 42 with another illegal, harmful and misguided asylum regulation, the U.S. has again missed an opportunity to restore its place as a leader in migrant rights and innovative policies. Under Title 42, the U.S. violated its obligations under international and U.S. law to protect people fleeing persecution, torture and other human rights violations, instead subjecting them to other harms at our border and expulsion without due process. The U.S. has an unequivocal obligation to ensure the rights of people seeking safety; yet, the executive and legislative branches continue to pursue paths that ignore these obligations, public opinions, our national values, and international best practices. By finalizing its asylum ban at unprecedented pace, the Biden Administration is also ignoring the tens of thousands of individual comments that highlighted how the rule will impinge the rights of asylum seekers, increase vulnerability to human trafficking, and abandon our agreed values as a country of welcome. In Minnesota, we’ve proven time and again that our communities are able and eager to welcome those fleeing harm, and that we are strengthened, not burdened, by doing so. We call on the U.S. to reverse course and uphold the right to seek protection from harm,” said Michele Garnett McKenzie, Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights.
“At a time of unprecedented global displacement, the Biden administration has elected to defy decades of humanitarian protections enshrined in U.S. law and international agreements.,” said Lee Williams, Chief Programs Officer at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Forcing persecuted people to first seek protection in countries with no functioning asylum systems is as ludicrous as it is life-threatening. This ban is Title 42 in sheep’s clothing, and it will have a devastating impact on children and families already uprooted by unimaginable violence, persecution, poverty, and climate disaster.”
“Title 42 has never been about protecting public health. It was the brainchild of Stephen Miller for the sole purpose of restricting immigration and should have been vacated on day one of the Biden administration,” said Laurie Ball Cooper, U.S. Legal Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “After years of deadly consequences, the end of Title 42 expulsions should be a win for the rule of law and for human rights. However, this day is tainted by the fact that the Biden administration is replacing Title 42 with a near-total asylum ban at the border. Instead of following Trump’s playbook, the Biden administration should reject the dehumanizing rhetoric that treats people seeking safety at the border as a threat and restore a humane and accessible asylum system.”
“While community advocates are glad to see the ending of Title 42, we strongly condemn the current asylum ban that is being imposed by the Biden Administration. As a former refugee who once sought refuge in this country, we should be opening our doors to those who are most vulnerable and facing danger, not closing them,” said Nejra Sumic, National Field Manager with We Are All America. “As WAAA we will hold the administration accountable for any measures that restrict the human right to seek asylum.”
“The very welcome end of Title 42 should be a time to reset our immigration and asylum policies and ensure that they are humane, compassionate, true to our country’s aspirations, and responsive to our needs,” said Claudia Tristán, Immigration Campaign Director of MomsRising. “Instead, immigration has been politicized and immigrants demonized in ways that are dangerous and destructive, that impede rational discourse and push constructive policies out of reach. That must change. Answers do not lie in separating families, putting vulnerable asylum-seekers at risk, militarizing our border, or building walls. America’s moms want families to remain together and every asylum-seeker and every immigrant to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect.”
“With this final rule, the Biden administration has officially abandoned its commitment and obligation to rebuild the U.S. asylum system and uphold our country’s historic commitment to offer refuge to people fleeing persecution,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director of the National Immigrant Justice Center. ““People around the world are increasingly being displaced from their homes by political and social oppression and the consequences of climate change. The new restrictive pathways the Biden administration lauds in this new rule are no replacement for a functional and fair asylum system that complies with U.S. and international human rights law.”
“Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services Inc. has welcomed and worked with refugees and asylum seekers in El Paso, Texas since 1986. We believe all belong and applaud the end of Title 42, which only served as a government tool to deny those seeking safety due process. We are however, dismayed that in the wake of Title 42 the government continues to treat those seeking safety as a security risk and seeks to impose further restrictions on the rights of those fleeing harm’s way by enacting a new asylum transit ban. We encourage this administration to listen to the more than 30,000 voices who submitted comments against the use of yet another deterrence policy whose only result will be denying asylum to those most in need. We should hold true to the values on our Statue of Liberty and welcome those yearning to breathe free. In El Paso, Texas over the past several years our community has come together to welcome migrants. The administration should listen to the solutions proposed by many of us who have served migrant populations along the border for decades. Migration is not a new phenomenon, we should welcome people with dignity instead of punishing them for seeking safety,” stated Melissa Lopez, Executive Director of Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, Inc.
“We welcome the long-overdue end of Title 42, a policy that hindered rightful access to asylum and aggravated humanitarian crises across the region,” said María José Espinosa, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA). “We urge the Administration to pivot on the implementation of the asylum ban rule, which violates the principles agreed upon in the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection’s commitments to responsibility sharing and strengthening frameworks for international protection and cooperation. Not only will this rule harm individuals and families seeking protection, but it will increase pressure on regional asylum systems, limit the capacity of international protection systems, and constrict the ability of countries in the region to establish sustainable migration regularization processes. After rightfully removing a draconian policy, the US should be pursuing policies rooted in protection and humanity, rather than ones seeking to externalize or outsource asylum and international protection obligations to other countries.”
“Title 42—the Trump-era public health pretext used for years to expel people from the U.S. instead of providing meaningful access to asylum—is slated to end on Thursday, May 11, 2023. Title 42 was unjustified, applied in a discriminatory manner, and created a dangerous situation for people fleeing harm by forcing people to wait in Mexico for the lifting of the policy,” said Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center of Northern California – CARECEN SF. “Sadly, Title 42 is being replaced by this administration with enforcement-focused policies like increased use of Expedited Removal, detention, 5-year bans, and misguided penalties for individuals who walk across the border to seek asylum without a pre-scheduled appointment using the problematic and defective app known as CBPOne. Recently, the Biden administration has announced a number of new “lawful” pathways to enter the United States, and CARECEN SF supports the addition of new programs. However, these new programs cannot be created in exchange for the ability to externalize the U.S. border down to Mesoamerica and southern nations of the Americas. The U.S. has the opportunity to affirm and move forward to establish a functional, welcoming, dignified immigration system. A system that upholds Due Process and honors the struggle, dignity, and bravery of people asserting their right to human mobility and to seek asylum or other forms of protection.”
“The lifting of the inhumane and discriminatory Title 42 policy is long overdue. But in announcing its new asylum ban, the Biden administration is lifting one unlawful barrier only to replace it with another,” said Tess Hellgren, Deputy Legal Director at Innovation Law Lab. “Ironically, this asylum ban claims to address the ‘circumvention’ of lawful migration pathways, when it actually obstructs these pathways. The right to seek asylum is enshrined in U.S. law. Americans have a responsibility—both moral and legal—to meet migrants seeking protection with dignity and fairness, providing them the just welcome they deserve. Instead, like Title 42, this latest asylum ban will punish individuals and families who are literally fleeing for their lives.”
“Today is an important day to reflect on the devastating harms Title 42 inflicted, and to mark its end. But – with reports that the Biden administration will be replacing it with additional restrictions on the right to seek asylum – it is not a day to celebrate,” said Kica Matos, Incoming President of the National Immigration Law Center. “If the administration proceeds with its plan to restrict the legal right of people to seek safety in the United States, they will effectively be slamming the door shut on people fleeing danger and forcing families back into harm’s way. This action would not only violate our nation’s obligations under federal and international law, but also directly contradicts President Biden’s repeated promises to uphold and strengthen asylum rights. Rather than doubling down on cruel and unnecessary Trump-era policies at the border, the Biden administration must instead embrace the fundamental values we cherish as Americans and restore access to asylum for everyone who comes to the U.S. seeking freedom and safety.”
“The rights of migrants to move with dignity must be upheld. As the conditions that force people to migrate worsen, the US must recognize its international obligations to provide protection for those who seek it. The Biden administration’s restrictions on accessing these protections impact our global credibility as a welcoming nation while creating impenetrable barriers for migrants who are unable to follow the mandated procedures. As a Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee urges the administration to rethink these divisive proposals and instead build compassionate systems that create stronger and more sustainable communities,” said Amy Gottlieb, US Migration Director, American Friends Service Committee.
“The Biden Administration and Congress hailing the end of Title 42 by unveiling the Asylum Ban Rule and the House bill H.R. 2 are failures of courage and justice, “ said Ronnate Asirwatham, Director, Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “The recent tragedies including the killing of asylum seekers in Brownsville, Texas and the deadly fire in Ciudad Juarez remind us that U.S. immigration policies lead to the death of our immigrant siblings and stoke fear in our communities. We call on both the Administration and Congress to focus on policies that welcome immigrants to safety and protection rather than cause harm and promote militarization.”
“We are appalled that the Biden administration has chosen to enact even more draconian policies against asylum as Title 42 is set to expire,” said Rabbi Joshua Lesser, President Bridges Faith Initiative. “The administration and Congress must remember the mistakes the U.S made when it turned away Jews fleeing on the ship St. Louis, and enact policies that ensure we never again turn away people fleeing danger but only welcome with dignity. The moral culpability of standing idly by as people die is too heavy to bear.”
“For three years Title 42 has denied people access to protection and, as it ends, the administration has chosen to enact sweeping, illegal and damning changes to our asylum system. The asylum ban is aimed at the most vulnerable among us. It is heaping cruelty on those with the least privilege, those most in need of our help. The asylum ban is a travesty of justice and reflects the moral basement the Biden administration has fallen into,” said Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s Executive Director Lindsay Toczylowski.
“We are seeing an upsetting pattern of policies that are one step forward and two steps back. While we welcome the long overdue end to the harmful and inhumane Title 42 policy, it is deeply disturbing and unacceptable to see it replaced by policies that will inflict yet more damage on people who are seeking safety at our borders,” said Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director for Refugee Congress. “And to what end? The asylum ban and the use of expedited removal serve no purpose other than inflicting cruelty, stripping people of their hope and dignity, keeping families apart, and diluting the strength and integrity of one of our critical lawful pathways. This Administration can and must move away from these policies, and closer to the campaign promises that were made three years ago.”
Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center, said, “Title 42 was an expulsion scheme masquerading as public health policy. Countless people have been harmed by it, and we’re glad to see it end. But Biden’s current moves will not solve the issues we’re seeing at the border and in our hemisphere. We need to stop thinking of our border as a place to be policed, and start thinking about how we can welcome those seeking safety on our shores.”
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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