Press

Biden’s Broken Promises: A Year of Safety Denied

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 18, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org

Biden’s Broken Promises: A Year of Safety Denied

President Biden has continued and expanded the worst of Trump’s asylum policies

 

Washington – President Biden promised to restore humanity to the way we welcome people seeking safety in our country. One year after his inauguration, he has broken that promise. His administration continues to prioritize political over humanitarian concerns at the expense of refugees, asylees, and other people seeking refuge on our doorstep. 

In his first year, President Biden sent 5,867 expulsion flights full of people–many of whom never had the chance to seek asylum back to danger. Of those, 180 flights were full of Haitian families back to an impoverished country suffering from extreme political unrest and almost no public health infrastructure during a pandemic. 

In his first year, President Biden not only continued but expanded “Remain in Mexico”: an illegal policy devised by nativists like Stephen Miller to make good on President Trump’s dream of putting out Lady Liberty’s torch once and for all.

After a year in office, President Biden has embraced the misuse of Title 42, despite the well-documented and disproportionate impact on Indigenous, Black, and LGBTQI refugees. His administration continues to ignore repeated calls from preeminent public health experts who said our nation can take proven public health precautions and safely welcome people seeking asylum at the same time. 

And recently, the Department of Justice has walked away from settlement negotiations with families separated by Trump’s policies at the border.

In response, members of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign representing a wide array of directly-impacted people seeking asylum and the experts and volunteers who support them issued the following response marking the occasion:

 

“It’s been one year since President Biden took the oath of office promising to restore the soul of America. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has kept and expanded anti-asylum policies, like Title 42 and ‘Remain in Mexico’ that are rooted in racism and xenophobia and erode the soul of America,” said Melina Roche, Campaign Manager of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign. “To truly live up to his promise, President Biden must ensure families, children, women, and men seeking safety are given a fair opportunity to seek refuge in a humane, dignified and fair manner.”

 

“A year into President Biden’s term, people seeking safety are still suffering under harmful policies of the Trump administration that Biden had pledged to end,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center. “This is not merely a political failure — it is a humanitarian one.  We remain committed to pushing the Biden Administration to do the right thing and follow through on his multiple pledges to create a more fair, humane, and orderly immigration system. Human lives hang in the balance.”

 

“One year into the Biden administration, the real crisis facing the immigration system is one of political leadership and will,” said Nisha Agarwal, Deputy Executive Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “President Biden has repeatedly stated his commitment to welcoming immigrants and refugees, but has yet to make significant progress dismantling the anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration. From record-low refugee admissions to the administration’s continued defense of inhumane policies like Title 42, broken promises abound. For his second year in office, President Biden must ensure that his actions follow through on his promises. Lives depend on it.”

 

Anna Gallagher, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc, or CLINIC, said: “President Biden built his campaign and the foundation of his administration on a promise to restore the soul of America. Yet, as we enter into year two, deadly policies at the U.S.-Mexico border including Remain in Mexico and Title 42, which disregard human life, remain in place and deeply damage the soul of America. How those in power treat those fleeing for their lives says everything about a country. We continue to call on the administration to do what is just and what is right and end the politicization of human life. As an organization rooted in Catholic values, we call on the administration to use its authority to protect asylum seekers and reaffirm our laws and the right to seek life-saving protection in our country.”   

 

Carolina Martin Ramos, Co-Executive Director of Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim (CMPI), said: “During his presidential campaign, President Biden led us to believe that he was truly shocked and offended by the Trump administration’s complete disregard for human rights and civil rights. Yet, only one year later and the Biden administration is fighting to keep Trump’s unconscionable and illegal immigration policies alive. The Biden administration is fighting to keep the MPP or “Remain in Mexico” program and Title 42 policies in place in violation of the rights of asylum seekers under federal and international laws. If that was not bad enough, the Biden administration has pulled back on promises to address the harms caused by the cruel family separations orchestrated by Stephen Miller and President Trump for political gain. We cannot allow any politicians to use the most vulnerable; children and refugees fleeing persecution and torture to be used as political fodder. True leaders stand up for our most vulnerable and don’t use them to gain political capital. Most of the families separated and many asylum seekers arriving today are Maya and Indigenous peoples fleeing persecution, torture, and forced displacement for protecting land, water, and their human rights. We need President Biden to stand up and distinguish his administration from the Trump administration instead of fighting to keep these unconscionable policies in place.”

 

“One year into his presidency, President Biden has broken his campaign promise to reassert the United States’ commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees by doubling down on policies that abandon, detain, and deport those in need of protection,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “In addition to expelling thousands of asylum-seekers and expanding immigration detention during the pandemic, the Biden administration has abandoned Afghans at most need of resettlement and perpetuated anti-Black immigration policies through the violence at the border and mass expulsions of Haitians. As President Biden approaches year two of his presidency, he must recommit to his abandoned campaign promise and rebuild the United States’ credibility as a bastion of humanitarian protection.”

 

“A year ago, President Biden took office promising to bring change, but for people seeking asylum hardly anything has changed at all,” said Noah Gottschalk, Global Policy Lead for Oxfam America. “President Biden committed to rebuilding our immigration system into one that centered the dignity and humanity of those fleeing for safety. Instead, his administration has doubled down on some of the most harmful xenophobic policies of the Trump administration. We will not stop advocating for immigrants until we revamp our immigration infrastructure and end shameful policies like Title 42 and ‘Remain in Mexico’ once and for all. To say that President Biden’s first year in office has been a disappointment is an understatement.”

 

“The Biden administration promised to end the cruel policies that defined his predecessor’s legacy,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Yet one year into this administration, the reality is that access to asylum at the border, especially at ports of entry, is still extremely limited, and many individuals continue to be summarily expelled from the border with no opportunity to seek protection. It is a misguided political choice to continue to implement or even expand anti-asylum policies rooted in xenophobia and racism such as the use of Title 42 or the Remain in Mexico program, policies that tear apart families and forces those fleeing for their lives back into danger. The Women’s Refugee Commission stands ready as ever to support the meaningful restart of asylum in the United States by creating a welcoming asylum system grounded in fairness. In 2022, the Biden administration must finally turn the page and welcome with dignity.” 



“We felt relief and optimism when President Biden took office one year ago,” said Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Upon assuming office, Biden promised to end Trump’s disastrous asylum policies and treat people seeking safety with humanity. Instead his administration has embraced some of Trump’s most unconscionable positions and practices, escalating Title 42 expulsions of people seeking asylum and expanding the dangerous Remain in Mexico policy. One year in, the U.S. border remains fundamentally closed to families, children, and adults escaping persecution. That is a political choice and a moral failure. As President Biden enters his second year in office, we urge him to immediately reverse course and reinstate a safe and fair asylum process at the southern border.”

 

“The Biden administration came into office with the mandate to restore humanity at the border and reverse the cruel policies of his predecessors. One year later, that mandate has been unfulfilled,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council. “The administration continues to promise that asylum will eventually be restored, but has refused over the last year to recognize that asylum seekers have a legal right to seek protection, and blocked accountability and compensation for the harms done to thousands of families separated at the border. As President Biden’s second year begins, we call on the President to abandon the misguided policies of his predecessor like Title 42, and follow through on his commitment to providing access to a safe, humane, and dignified asylum system. Rather than using resources to expel asylum seekers as a form of deterrence, the Biden administration could instead surge resources to ports of entry to process asylum seekers in safety.” 

 

“One year into his administration, President Biden’s promise to uphold asylum law remains alarmingly unfulfilled and his administration’s continued use of inhumane Trump-era policies to turn away people seeking refuge is inflicting massive human rights abuses and staining the president’s record,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “The president should direct his administration to end this travesty and restore asylum before these policies cause even more suffering, disorder at the border and damage to his administration’s credibility.”

 

“As we approach the first anniversary of the Biden-Harris administration, I am in sheer disappointment at the level of cruelty and dismissal of human lives that we have seen,’ said Guerline Jozef, cofounder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “To place this sentiment in context, it’s important that since to date, this administration has sent 181 to Haiti. This is estimated to be over 18,000 asylum seekers, including pregnant women and babies. Out of these 181 flights, 144 have taken place since September 19. This is the same country that the administration has stated is unsafe on multiple occasions – most recently by a warning notice issued by the Department of State. Further, the decision by the Biden-Harris administration to uphold policies, like Title 42, which was implemented by white nationalists, again proves that they are not keeping their promise to build better. Today, one year into the administration, we are calling for the Biden-Harris administration to truly welcome with dignity. The world witnessed Del Rio!”

 

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Biden administration continues to refuse to process asylum claims using the debunked theory that doing so would present a public health risk, regardless of whether the individuals are vaccinated, test negative for COVID-19, and/or quarantine, all while the administration simultaneously allows business travelers and tourists to enter the country,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “The United States has a legal and moral obligation to consider the cases of people seeking safety in our country.”

 

“The Biden administration inherited a cruel and chaotic set of immigration and border policies from the Trump regime. Instead of the sweeping reforms and sharp contrasts that they promised to deliver, the Biden team has been scared by the political attacks of a rabid right-wing media world and xenophobic Republicans who are intent on attacking Democrats on immigration regardless of the facts or their actual policies,” said Vanessa Cardenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice. “The best way forward on policy is their best way forward politically: deliver on promises and establish a workable legal system for asylum seekers, refugees and workers.”

 

“Unfortunately a year into President Biden’s term, we are seeing the continuation of cruel and unlawful anti-asylum policies at the border,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG Co-director. “Instead of welcoming those seeking safety, the Biden administration is expelling them to Mexico, Central America, Haiti and other countries on daily death flights. Instead of giving people a chance to make their claims heard from within the United States we are returning them to Mexico to wait in danger. This is not what President Biden promised. On the one year anniversary of his taking office, we urge him to change course and rescind Title 42 and Remain in Mexico. This is not who we are as a country. We can do better and must begin the process of restoring access to asylum at our border.”

 

“For families, children, and adults fleeing violence and persecution, seeking asylum is a human right, and can be a question of life or death. Yet the Biden administration has doubled down on expelling asylum seekers and migrants to danger under Title 42 without even a chance to request protection,” said Stephanie Brewer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). “This isn’t the change that President Biden promised, and it does nothing to build effective and rights-respecting solutions to forced migration. What the country and the region need is leadership and coordination to ensure protection for refugees and solutions for displaced populations.”

 

“Broken promises mark President Biden’s one-year anniversary as he continues to uphold policies that endanger the lives of migrants seeking safety”, said Pedro Rios, Director of the US-Mexico Border Program at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  “Instead of dismantling Trump’s harmful and racist policies such as the Title 42 order and the MPP or “Remain in Mexico” program that have caused untold suffering for migrants, the Biden Administration has assumed them as his own and even expanded them despite knowing migrants face immediate peril in Mexico. Border Patrol agents under the Biden Administration continue to commit human rights violations with impunity, and President Biden has yet to recommit the United States to asylum procedures recognized by federal and international laws.  As an organization guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light of each person, we must continue to challenge state violence in all its forms and uplift the dignity of the most vulnerable amongst us.”

 

On the first anniversary of President Biden’s inauguration, we commend his actions on critical policies including reversal of the so-called “Muslim ban” and raising the refugee resettlement ceiling to 125,000,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “However, it is deeply concerning that the Biden Administration continues to implement Trump-era policies that block people who have fled their homes from seeking safety in the United States, including Title 42 and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. We are extremely disappointed by these border policies and will continue to urge the Administration to take steps to honor its commitments to protect the dignity of those in search of protection.” 

 

“A year into the Biden administration, the situation has worsened at the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Laura St. John, Legal Director at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “The Biden administration, despite promises to the contrary, has not only continued, but normalized and in some cases expanded cruel and unjust policies like Title 42 and MPP. These policies force thousands of people who are seeking protection to live in indefinite limbo in life-threatening conditions with no options to seek safety for themselves and their families. The weight of responsibility for these policies and the lives they are endangering is squarely on President Biden’s shoulders. Lives are at stake, and it’s time for President Biden’s actions to match candidate Biden’s promises.” 

 

“One year into President Biden’s term, this administration continues to see border communities and immigrants as a liability rather than a great strength,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of Hope Border Institute. “As an organization working on the border, we have a vision of our region as a place that welcomes vulnerable people on the move, breaks down barriers of inequity and upholds the sacredness of each human being. We welcome opportunities to work with the Biden administration to end Title 42 and Remain in Mexico and craft a dignified and forward-thinking asylum system. We also invite the Vice President to lean back into the essential work of addressing the root causes of forced migration in a way that offers real hope and opportunity to those whose lives are displaced by the pandemic, climate change, violence and poverty.”

 

“On the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s inauguration we anticipated we would look back on the promise of a more ‘fair and just system’ to ‘reclaim America’s values’ and savor a moment of promises fulfilled,” said Tom Cartwright, Leadership Team of Witness at the Border. “Instead, it is with fathomless sadness that we look back on a year of business as usual with respect to the rejection and push back of those who came to us seeking refuge. We witnessed 6,126 likely ICE Air flights, an increase of 1,282 (26%) from 2020. Of these, 1,056 were removal flights to home countries, an increase of 48 (5%). However, it is not the tubes of steel we see in the air. We see hundreds of thousands of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters being shamed, shunned, and returned to danger at home, or shuffled around detention centers in the US, many bound head to toe in 5-point shackles. How can anyone witness such acts of purposeful rejection and not recognize the hollow ring of the promise to ‘never turn our backs on who we are or that which makes us uniquely and proudly American’?”

 

“We are one year into this administration, and we have yet to see the promised restoration of our humanitarian protection system,” said Basma Alawee, Campaign Manager of We Are All America. “People who are fleeing persecution and arriving in the United States have a legal right to seek asylum. Despite this, the Biden administration has continued policies from the last administration, like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42, that undermine the human right and domestic right to seek humanitarian protection. I ask, President Biden, what will it take for you to fulfill your campaign promises?” 

 

“The Biden administration has completely failed to protect immigrant survivors of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other gender-based violence,” said Richard Caldarone, Litigation Counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center. “The administration has used a sham ‘public health’ policy to keep countless survivors fleeing for their lives out of the United States, regardless of their health or their vaccination status, while opening the border to tourists. It has restarted, and voluntarily expanded, the illegal ‘Remain in Mexico’ program that forced thousands of survivors to wait for years in areas of Northern Mexico well-known to be particularly dangerous for women, girls, and LGBTQIA+ people. It has brazenly reneged on its promise to compensate survivors illegally torn from their children during the prior administration. It has failed to meaningfully address backlogs in processing survivors’ applications for relief. And it has not even begun to unwind illegal policies enacted under the prior administration that would render it almost impossible for survivors to receive asylum in the United States. The administration’s first year has been a disgraceful failure to ensure survivors receive the protections established by U.S. law.”

 

Alice Levine of of Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice said, “When President Biden was elected, when Secretary Mayorkas was appointed, and when Dr. Walensky took over the helm of the CDC, we assumed this federal agency would no longer be a puppet of the administration or let itself be used to continue a policy — Title 42 — that is not based in science or public health but is meant to keep out those who seek asylum at our borders, and that the harmful Remain in Mexico policy would be ended.   We have asked our elected and appointed leaders to finally acknowledge that the science in no way justifies the continuation of Title 42 and that the U.S. must develop and implement policies that allow those fleeing violence and persecution to exercise their right to seek asylum, as enshrined in U.S. and international law.   As we told Secretary Mayorkas and Dr. Walensky in a letter directed to them and signed by Jewish leaders and organizations across the country, their support for the continued use of Title 42 and the continuation (and now expansion) of “Remain in Mexico” are in direct contradiction to the promises made by the Biden campaign and are leading to danger, abuse and death for those fleeing to our borders to seek safety.  As an organization based in the Jewish community, both our history (of Jews fleeing persecution and violence around the world) and our values and teachings compel us to stand up forcefully against these inhumane and illegal policies.  Keep your promises, President Biden!”  

 

“One year into the Biden administration, immigrant communities are still in need of bold federal leadership that centers and elevates our priorities and concerns. In its first year, the administration achieved few of its campaign promises, and worse yet, continued Trump-era policies like Title 42 and Remain in Mexico that undermine the human right to asylum and place migrants in life-threatening danger,’ said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans.  “The efforts of hardworking civil servants in the administration have produced some victories for immigrants, but the administration must quickly seize opportunities to truly lead for the immigrants who secured its electoral victory. The administration has the legal authority and moral imperative to increase protections for Black migrants, survivors of gender violence, those fleeing gang violence, climate change-based refugees, and LGBTQ community members, and must act with urgency.”

 

“President Biden ran a campaign on the promise to restore welcoming policies however a year into his administration President Biden promise to restore welcome and rebuild the humane protection systems that were dismantled during the Trump era remains unfulfilled. This nation has a legal and moral obligation to allow those seeking refuge the right to claim asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief. It’s time for Biden to fulfill his promises, to prioritize humanity, and work towards welcoming all with dignity,” said Dagemawit Kebede, Refugee Congress Communications and Advocacy Associate.

 

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Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.  

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 95 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

 

Senate Leadership Must Override Parliamentarian

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org

 

Senate Leadership Must Override Parliamentarian

A Pathway to Citizenship is Essential

 

Washington – In response to reports that the Senate Parliamentarian issued an advisory opinion against including much-needed and long-awaited pathway to citizenship in upcoming legislation, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign responded:

“Senate leaders must listen to and honor immigrant communities and exercise their power to disregard the parliamentarian’s advisory opinion and deliver on their promise. A pathway to citizenship for our family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors is long overdue,” said Melina Roche, Campaign Manager of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign. “Immigrant communities cannot wait any longer. The time for Congress to act is now.”

 

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Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.  

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 95 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

U.S. Continues to Violate Indigenous and Human Rights at the Southern Border

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org

 

U.S. CONTINUES TO VIOLATE INDIGENOUS AND HUMAN RIGHTS AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER 

 

Washington – On the occasion of International Migrants Day this Saturday, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign and the International Mayan League call attention to the U.S. government’s continued human rights violations of Indigenous peoples seeking asylum in the United States. Last week marked the three-year anniversary of the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Maya Q’eqchi’ Indigenous girl who died on the morning of December 8, 2018 under the custody of the U.S. government. Since 2018, there have been five documented cases of Indigenous children dying at the U.S./Mexico border. Last week more than 50 primarily indigenous migrants, including families and children, perished in a horrific truck crash in Chiapas, Mexico. These tragedies are the direct result of the brutal immigration policies of the United States and Mexico, which have blocked safe pathways to protection and placed people seeking asylum in harm’s way.

Indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted by anti-asylum policies such as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico due to the continued erasure of their Indigenous identities, Indigenous language exclusion within immigration services, anti-Indigeniety racism, and ongoing discrimination they face throughout their journeys. Indigenous women and girls are at heightened risk for sex and human trafficking because of their gender and the ongoing Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) epidemic that impacts them across borders. Since Jakelin’s death in 2018 and despite a change in administrations, the systems in place have not changed. Indigenous erasure continues due to the lack of disaggregated data and the lack of Indigenous language interpretations services provided. On International Day of the Migrant, we remind the administration of its domestic and international law obligations to protect the human rights of all children and people, and guarantee due process within the asylum system. 

 

“The death of the Indigenous children who died under U.S. custody demands justice for their families, for themselves, and for all Indigenous communities who continue to be impacted by forced displacement,” said Dr. Jessica Hernandez (Maya Ch’orti/Binnizá), Climate Justice Policy Strategist for International Mayan League. “Yet within the immigration discourse, their Indigeneity has been erased, ignored, and hidden. It is time we speak up for Indigenous rights within the immigration discourse and call on the Biden administration to do just by Indigenous peoples of the Americas.” 

 

“On this International Migrants Day, we reflect on the complex causes for migration and the contributions migrants add to our communities. I urge us to also remember those that perished seeking safety and opportunity, from Jakelin Call Maquin, a seven-year old Maya Q’eqchi’ girl who died inU.S. government custody in 2018, to the 55 people who lost their lives in a crash in southern Mexico just last week. Many of those we lost were from Maya K’iche’ and Ixil Nations,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “Last week’s tragedy is a result of the U.S. and Mexican government’s inhumane and enforcement-centric policies that force migrants to take  dangerous clandestine routes. Policies like Remain in Mexico and Title 42 which return people to danger and deny them the right to seek refuge must end. We call on the governments of the U.S. and Mexico to prioritize the safety of migrants and access to protection. It’s time to move away from deterrence-led policies that violate human rights and result in the loss of lives.

 

“On December 8, we marked the third anniversary of the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Maya Qʼeqchiʼ girl who died in U.S. immigration custody.  Unfortunately, there are many more like her, but we may never know due to the lack of transparency, resources, and dignity bestowed upon this community”, said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Haitian Bridge Alliance. “The indigenous community faces unique struggles in their fight to seek protection. Often being met with violence at the U.S.- Mexico border, many risks their identity being erased as they are miscategorized as Hispanic or Latino. The lack of interpreters who speak their native languages creates further barriers. We stand in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters as they continue to mourn. Is it crucial that we understand and find solutions to their plight every day, not only on a day like today.  It is also time that we all in unison hold the Biden-Harris administration accountable for all policies that continuously harm this community, including Title 42. We must welcome all with respect and dignity.”

 

“The deaths of indigenous children in Border Patrol custody sadly converge with those of the 56 migrants, also primarily indigenous persons from Guatemala, who died in Chiapas as the result of a tragic road accident on December 9th. These cases constitute crimes against humanity and cry out for justice,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, on behalf of Witness at the Border,  the International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement, and the Task Force on the Americas of the National Lawyers’ Guild. “As we join together in commemoration of International Migrants Day, we also demand full accountability. The Biden, López Obrador and Giammattei administrations are jointly responsible for these crimes and for their reparation. We stand also today in solidarity with the migrant caravan in Mexico and the Haitian victims of racist state violence at the border.”

 

 “As a mother, my heart goes out to the indigenous families who have lost a child during their perilous journey to seek asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection. In the same vein, I am appalled by the sheer negligence demonstrated by our immigration system, which has resulted in the death of five indigenous children,” said Basma Alawee, Campaign Manager for We Are All America. ” As leaders in the refugee and immigration movement, we must all actively speak up for indigenous rights. We urge Biden to uphold his campaign promise of rebuilding a welcoming infrastructure for asylum-seekers and those seeking refuge. The administration’s commitment to supporting the human rights of asylum seekers can save the lives of indigenous women and children.”

 

“Indigenous peoples around the world are routinely marginalized, discriminated against, and subject to violence and other abuses because of their Indigenous identity and the defense of their land rights, territory, and environment,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA. “This International Migrants Day is a grim reminder that Indigenous lives are under threat and have been lost at the hands of the US government. We call on the Biden Administration to do right by Indigenous communities across the Americas, to recognize and uphold Indigenous rights in the context of immigration, and immediately end policies like Title 42, Migrant Protection Protocols, and the use of arbitrary, mass immigration detention that perpetuate racism and discrimination against Indigenous, Black, and other migrants of color.”

 

“On International Migrants Day, we mourn the Indigenous children whose deaths in US government custody were preventable,” said Katharina Obser, Migrant Rights and Justice Director for Women’s Refugee Commission. “Tragically, Indigenous people routinely face the erasure of their identities and language in the US immigration system, and this discrimination leads to medical neglect and unjust outcomes. To meet its values and stated goals, the Biden administration must respect the rights of Indigenous and other migrants and treat them with dignity.”

 

“It is a painful juxtaposition that the anniversary of the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and the ongoing expulsions of asylum seekers at our borders should coincide with International Migrants Day, when we should be honoring our Indigenous communities and affirming our commitment to protecting migrants seeking refuge,” said Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director for Refugee Congress.  We strongly urge President Biden to end the inhumane policies that have resulted in the deaths of Indigenous children in US custody and that continue to cause such irreparable harm. This administration can and absolutely must do better.”

 

“As an attorney I spoke with and represented many Indigenous asylum seekers who struggled to communicate their desire to seek asylum due to the language and other barriers that prevent many asylum seekers and migrants, but particularly Indigenous peoples, from exercising their legal and human right to seek protection,” said Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel of Human Rights First. “On International Migrants Day, I am thinking of the Indigenous mothers like Gloria, who I met in a family detention center after she had been unlawfully deported to her persecutor in Guatemala despite expressing a fear of return in her native language, who are fighting each day to protect their children and loved ones. On this day—and every day—the United States must stand alongside Indigenous peoples by respecting and upholding their human rights.” 

 

“This International Migrants Day, we stand in solidarity with indigenous migrants and against their erasure in the immigration system,” said Jennifer Babaie, U.S. Southern Border Project Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “Not only do indigenous communities face forced displacement across the continent, including from climate change and systemic discrimination, but indigenous migrants encounter additional injustice at the hands of the U.S. immigration system. Today, we mourn the preventable loss of indigenous migrants like Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year old Maya Q’eqchi’ girl who died in U.S. custody, and call on the Biden administration to recognize and respect the rights of indigenous migrants.”

 

“This International Migrants Day we mourn the tragic and preventable deaths of Indigenous migrants and refugees seeking safety in the United States,” said Felipe Navarro Lux, Manager of Regional Initiatives at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “From the heartbreaking deaths of children in U.S. custody, to last week’s horrific accident in Chiapas, to the suffering brought by Title 42 and Remain in Mexico, this horrific loss of life is the direct result of draconian, racist policies that punish people for seeking protection. Today and every day we urge the Biden administration to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples and welcome all migrants with dignity and fairness.”

 

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Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.  

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 95 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

Remain in Mexico: Fifth Circuit Upholds a Deadly Program 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2021

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | press@welcomewithdignity.org | 646-899-9722

 

Remain in Mexico: Fifth Circuit Upholds a Deadly Program 

Decision Will Return Families to Danger

Washington — In response to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision issued late Monday night that upheld a lower court injunction on reinstatement of the Remain in Mexico (RMX) policy – dubbed the “Migrant Protection Protocol” (MPP) by the Trump administration – legal experts, human rights advocates, and people impacted by the cruel program responded:

 

“The 5th circuit ruling on MPP was radical in its sweep, stunning in its mischaracterization of the law, and depressingly predictable as a way station on the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline. From Ken Paxton to Texas judges to the 5th circuit court, pro-Trump conservatives have put their thumbs on the scale to advance Trump policies and conservative political goals under the guise of the law. Unless the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill institute changes into the federal judiciary, this is our future on immigration and other progressive issues,” said David Leopold, legal advisor to America’s Voice, Chair of Immigration at Ulmer & Berne and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

 

“Yesterday’s federal appeals court decision reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols is deeply disappointing,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “We have seen first-hand the impact this harmful policy has had on the lives of asylum seekers lawfully petitioning for protection. We urge the Biden Administration to do everything in its power to reverse this policy and call on the courts to uphold long-standing rights and protections for those seeking safety in the U.S.”

 

“This court ruling is a terrible blow for human rights and the rule of law,” said Andrew Geibel, Policy Counsel at HIAS. “The Remain in Mexico program denied thousands of people a fair chance at asylum by putting them in danger and making legal representation a distant dream. HIAS saw countless individuals who suffered persecution or violence as a direct result of this program. Yet this court decision threatens to make the program and its abuses permanent. The administration must use every tool at its disposal to legally re-end the program.”

 

“IRAP is alarmed by the 5th Circuit’s deeply flawed and cruel decision to block the Biden administration from terminating MPP,” said Jennifer Babaie, U.S Southern Border Program Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “The decision distorted basic facts, ignored crucial evidence, and will actively put migrants in harm’s way. The Biden administration must continue its efforts to terminate MPP and restore the U.S.-Mexico border to a place where asylum seekers can seek refuge, as is their right under the law.”

“The direct harm that the Remain in Mexico program inflicts upon families and individuals seeking safety is heartbreakingly clear,” said Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center. “Yesterday’s Fifth Circuit ruling makes a mockery of our law, is an affront to human dignity, and will be directly responsible for human suffering and loss of life. The Biden Administration must continue to seek an end to this shameful, life-threatening program by any and all available legal means.”

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision is as cruel as it is flawed. Repeatedly, faith communities have called the restart and expansion of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols unconscionable. To state that this decision will cost lives is not exaggeration, but near fact. Thousands have already been victimized by this cruel and inhumane program, forced to exist in perilous circumstances or returned to the very danger they fled in the first place,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at CWS. “With both Title 42 and MPP in place, mothers, fathers and their children will be put at risk in Mexico, and thousands of Haitians will be expelled back to Haiti, despite widespread unrest and crisis in that country. The politics of exclusion and marginalization that this ill-conceived program was created under should not dictate a U.S. immigration policy. The Biden administration must do everything in its power to fully restore asylum protections and welcome people seeking refuge.”

“Last night’s Fifth Circuit ruling was an unsurprising yet deeply disturbing blow to the rule of law.  The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was a humanitarian disaster when it was invented and implemented by the Trump administration, and it is a humanitarian disaster now.  People subjected to the Biden administration’s version of Remain in Mexico over the last week were treated inhumanely, returned to a place where their safety is in jeopardy and deprived of meaningful access to counsel, as Human Rights First’s research team observed and documented,” said Senior Director of Refugee Protection at Human Rights First Eleanor Acer.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision twists the facts and undermines rule of law,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and co-counsel in Innovation Law Lab v. Mayorkas, challenging the legality of MPP. “MPP was a humanitarian catastrophe designed to deprive asylum seekers of their rights and subject them to grievous harm in Mexico. The program resulted in untold suffering and made a mockery of our country’s laws and treaty commitments. We urge the Biden administration to do everything in its power to end MPP for good and reinstate a safe and fair asylum process at the border. Lives depend on it.”

“The reinstatement of MPP will have devastating human consequences,” said Lisa Parisio, Director of Advocacy at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC. “It is a proven certainty. The Biden administration must reverse the course it has taken so far and respond to the Fifth Circuit’s decision by standing for the rights and dignity of asylum seekers and defending U.S. and international law.”

“Detention and return should never be default measures to respond to the deep humanitarian protection needs at the border, as this flawed court ruling suggests”, said Olga Byrne, Director of Immigration for the International Rescue Committee. “The return of MPP will ultimately hurt asylum seekers by impeding their legal right to seek safety in the United States and forcing them back into potentially dangerous conditions. We urge the Biden Administration to live up to international obligations and their prior commitments by working to end MPP once and for all and instead work with welcoming communities to implement a safe and dignified system to receive asylum seekers.”

Sergio Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Immigration Hub said, “The 5th Circuit’s Remain in Mexico (MPP) decision has enormous human consequences for the thousands of asylum seekers who will be forced into dangerous locations while they await adjudication of their claims. The court declared that the only alternative to jail for a person awaiting a decision on their asylum application is to be forced into extremely dangerous locations in Mexico. There is no basis in law to compel this ‘Sophie’s choice’, it ignores Mexico’s right to determine how and whether to cooperate with the U.S. on Mexican territory, and it explicitly undermines the right to seek asylum, by design.The Biden administration should heed the alarm bells and explore every available means to protect the credibility of the court and the dignity of migrants and put an end, once and for all, to the cruel Remain in Mexico policy.”

“Trump may be out of office, but his political appointees continue to do his bidding throughout our judicial system to enact a blatantly anti-immigrant agenda. Make no mistake, the Fifth Circut’s decision to reject President Biden’s attempt to end the Migrant Protection Protocols program is grounded in racism and xenophobia, not legal precedent,” said Tami Goodlette, Director of Litigation at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). “We expect nothing different from the Trump and Bush-appointed judges, including one who is Governor Abbott’s former attorney. The so-called Migrant Protection Protocols are fundamentally unjust, and are being used as an illegal deterrent to turn the border – a place where people can legally seek asylum – into a site rampant with human rights crises and abuses. The Biden administration must forcefully push back against this Trump-era legacy, which will hurt our communities for years to come by stripping away the basic human right to seek asylum and refuge at our borders.”

 

“Upholding dangerous policies from the Trump Administration is not only to innocent asylum-seeking families but also to our proud history as a nation of immigrants. We urge federal agencies to dismantle this harmful policy and instead put in place fair, compassionate, humane systems to process vulnerable mothers and children. The vast majority of asylum-seekers are women and children who are in search of safety. They have made difficult decisions to leave behind the only place they know and take a dangerous journey to seek asylum. Righting the terribly wrong asylum and immigration policies the Trump Administration imposed is a high priority for America’s moms,” said Claudia Tristán, immigration campaign director for MomsRising.

 

The Fifth Circuit’s decision comes after #WelcomeWithDignity partners delivered more than 200,000 signatures demanding President Biden take immediate action to restore the right to seek asylum by reversing Title 42 and stopping the reimplementation of ‘Remain in Mexico.’ Our previous statement on the administration’s expansion of the deadly program is available here.

 

Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 95 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

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Advocates & Experts Denounce MPP Program Expansion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org | 646-899-9722

 

Advocates & Experts Denounce MPP Program Expansion

 

Washington – Today, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign held a press call with individuals who were subjected to the first iteration of MPP, litigants in the court case against the policy, and human rights experts denouncing the administration’s decision to disregard the human cost the program has already had and further expand it to new populations. The call was held as the consensus against the expansion of MPP continues to grow.

The union representing USCIS asylum officers condemned the re-implementation of the program in a public statement that said in part: “our Union calls on the Biden Administration, Congress, and the courts to denounce MPP as inconsistent with federal law and U.S. treaty obligations and to do everything in their power to end this fatally deficient, abhorrent program once and for all.”

 

“Reimplementing MPP, while knowing that it does not truly bring solutions and puts people sent to Mexico under MPP at risk of crimes and limbo, is completely inhuman and senseless.” Said Estuardo Cifuentes, Client Services Manager, Project Corazon, Lawyers for Good Government / Rainbow Bridge . Cifuentes is currently in MPP and paroled into the US as an open case.

 

“My colleagues and I spent years documenting and cataloging the terrible litany of human suffering caused by Remain in Mexico – over 1,500 reported incidents of murder, rape, torture, and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers returned to Mexico under this inhumane policy,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director for research and analysis on refugee protection at Human Rights First. “We fear that under the Biden administration’s renewed and expanded Remain in Mexico policy there will be yet more kidnappings, more rapes, more unexcusable violence against the families, adults and children trying to seek safety in the United States.” 

 

There is no protection under the Remain in Mexico policy. There is only persecution of people looking for safety. MPP was unacceptable under Trump, and it is unacceptable under Biden,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance.Instead of working to fulfill their campaign promise of an orderly, safe, and humane immigration system, the Biden-Harris Administration chose to expand the cruel Trump MPP policy to include all countries in the Western Hemisphere.” Despite Mexico’s request for humanitarian improvements as conditions of agreeing to accept enrollees, including guarantees that asylum seekers have access to legal counsel, it’s expected that as always, Black asylum seekers enrolled in MPP will experience further racism, abuse, denial of due process, and continuous neglect. Immigration is a Black issue and it is beyond time for the Biden-Harris Administration to restore  asylum rights, in accordance with U.S. and international law.”


“The Biden administration has made a deliberate choice to expand the Remain in Mexico program to apply to nationals of any country in the Western Hemisphere, including nationals of Haiti, Jamaica, and Brazil, among others—despite knowing that Black asylum seekers are particularly at risk of violence in Mexican border areas,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center. “The courts did not force this; this is anti-Blackness. For the first time, we will see the combined effect of a policy of Title 42 and Remain in Mexico. The result is a total asylum shutdown under a President who pledged to end MPP and restore a welcoming asylum system. President Biden: Follow through on your promises: restore asylum; honor our moral and legal commitments to those seeking safety. Take all the steps necessary to make that your legacy instead.”

 

“This administration says that it is in a battle for the soul of America – that’s true at the border as well. How the administration chooses to meet this moment – that is how it chooses to respond to the arrival of families and people seeking safety in our country– will define its legacy,” said Ursela Ojeda, senior policy advisor of Women’s Refugee Commission. “Will we meet migrant families and individuals with cruelty and deterrence or will we meet them with humanity and due process? From the perspective of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign we urge in the strongest possible terms for the administration to change course from continuing and expanding the harmful policies of its predecessor. It must focus on restoring access to a safe, just, and humane asylum process, one that welcomes with dignity rather than blocking, expelling, or subjecting those seeking safety to harm.”

 

A recording of the call is available here. Our statement on the expansion of the program is available here.

 

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Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.  

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 90 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

#WelcomeWithDignity Denounces Biden Administration’s Expansion of MPP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 2, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org 

 

#WelcomeWithDignity Denounces Biden Administration’s Expansion of MPP, Calls for this Unlawful and Cruel Policy to be Ended Once and For All

 

Washington Today the Biden administration announced it will restart and expand the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as ‘Remain in Mexico’, with the willing cooperation of the Mexican Government.  It is inexplicable and unconscionable that the administration has chosen to expand the populations subjected to the deadly program, despite not being under any obligation to do so. Several #WelcomeWithDignity partners asserted in an amicus brief filed earlier this year that any form of MPP would in fact violate the laws of the United States and its treaty obligations to people escaping persecution. In fact, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in his memo terminating the program, “MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, but it also fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that all persons deserve.” 

 

Under MPP people seeking asylum were forced to await their U.S. court dates in dangerous conditions in northern Mexico, under the threat of violence, kidnappings, and homelessness. Although the Biden administration continues to signal its intent to fully end MPP, its embrace of another violent policy, Title 42, is exposing families, children, and adults to the very same dangers. Since the president took office, human rights investigators have documented over 7,647 violent attacks on people expelled to Mexico. Since September the administration has used Title 42 to expel over 8,000 Haitians to a country in deep crisis. If President Biden truly wants to turn the page on the racism and cruelty of the Trump era, his administration must immediately stop the expulsions, permanently end MPP, and welcome with dignity all people seeking safety at our nation’s doorstep.

 

“There is no safe, humane, or legal way to send asylum seekers back into harm’s way,” said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America’s Global Policy Lead. “Tinkering with the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program does nothing to change that. Restarting this program – in any form – violates both the rights of people seeking protection and the promises President Biden made to build a fair and humane asylum system. Countless people are still suffering from the harm caused by ‘Remain in Mexico’. The Biden administration was right to issue a second termination memo of this shameful program, and must now do everything in its power to put an end to the policy once and for all.”

 

“The Remain in Mexico program was a human rights catastrophe that trapped people seeking safety in an ecosystem of violence and terror,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) and co-counsel in Innovation Law Lab v. Mayorkas, which challenged the legality of MPP. “The policy was designed to punish and deter people seeking safety and deprive them of their rights. It is impossible to implement MPP in a way that keeps refugees safe and comports with our laws. We will continue to fight for a permanent end to MPP and all policies that place asylum seekers in harm’s way. It is long past time to restore access to a safe and fair asylum process at the border.”

 

“MPP and similar policies like Title 42 cannot be allowed to become the new normal,” said Jennifer Babaie, U.S. Southern Border Project Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “It is unacceptable that nearly a year into President Biden’s presidency, his administration is enforcing multiple Trump-era policies known for their abject cruelty. The first iteration of MPP directly placed thousands of migrants in harm’s way, making them vulnerable to kidnapping, extortion, and assault while denying them their right to seek safety in the United States. Any new version of the program will do the same. There is no way to make an inherently inhumane program humane, and yet the administration is going beyond what is legally required to re-implement MPP. Instead, the administration must make every effort to undo the damage caused by these policies and restore full access to asylum at the border.”

 

“The Biden administration’s shameful regression in restarting this unlawful Trump policy flies in the face of its own determination that no number of changes could render this deadly policy more humane or provide the access to the asylum system that the law requires,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “The administration must stop hiding behind a flawed court order to justify restarting Remain in Mexico. Now is the time for the administration to discard misguided political calculus and instead lead with courage and humanity to do everything in its power to relegate Remain in Mexico to the past.”

 

“From Day 1 of its January 2019 implementation, the Remain in Mexico policy has wreaked havoc on the lives of courageous people who left everything behind to save their lives and seek refuge in the United States. We must not only continue to work to repair the unimaginable harm inflicted on more than 70,000 people already affected by this illegal policy, but also must end the policy once and for all, alongside other policies like Title 42 that amount to a blockade against vulnerable asylum seekers.” – Jordan Cunnings, Legal Director, Innovation Law Lab

 

“We are appalled that President Biden has not only restarted MPP but is expanding it to include Haitian nationals. MPP and policies such as Title 42 can never be just or humane,” said Ronnate Asirwatham, Director Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.  “We stand with immigrants and our partners providing services at the border and reiterate  that meaningful access to counsel, justice, and due process under MPP is impossible and to even attempt it would make a mockery of U.S. laws and the tenets of our faith. We call on the Biden administration end MPP and Title 42 and restore the ability to seek asylum at the border ” 

 

“This administration is failing to see that the people who will be most impacted by the Remain in Mexico policy are climate refugees—mostly Black & Indigenous peoples from Latin America who are forcefully displaced from their ancestral lands,” said Dr. Jessica Hernandez, Climate Justice Policy Strategist from the International Mayan League. “For months, this administration has always blamed the previous administration for the harmful rhetoric and tactics used at the border, but this shows us that they are no different. For an administration that is building a false persona about caring for Black lives and centering Indigenous rights and knowledge, this policy points to a different reality. Most climate refugees are Black and Indigenous peoples, trying to seek asylum in this country. We cannot remain silent as we see this administration pass policies that are the most harmful to Black and Indigenous climate refugees—many who are also escaping persecution because they are defending their rights to their ancestral lands and the rights of their peoples.” 

 

“The Remain in Mexico policy was a human rights travesty when it was first implemented under the Trump administration, and it is doomed to be so again. Based on our extensive research on the Remain in Mexico policy, we know too well that no asserted ‘improvements’ can fix this inherently flawed policy,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director for research on refugee protection at Human Rights First. “In concert with partner organizations in the United States and Mexico, Human Rights First will once again restart our efforts to track and document the grave human rights violations that asylum seekers face when they are forced to wait in danger in Mexico in order to exercise their right to seek U.S. asylum protection.”

 

“Rather than keep its promises to provide a border where migrants can seek asylum as permitted under U.S. and international law, the Biden Administration instead continues to rely on inhumane and xenophobic Trump policies that put families and children into danger,” said Tami Goodlette, Director of Litigation at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). “There is no way to reinstate MPP in a moral or humane way—the policy is fundamentally unjust and disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous migrants, and because of it, families’ lives are in jeopardy. President Biden has chosen to devise illegal deterrent measures instead of protect the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. He must do better and immediately end MPP.”

 

“With the restart of MPP, the Biden administration is exacerbating an unlawful and dangerous approach of chaos, cruelty, and danger at the U.S. border,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at Women’s Refugee Commission. “There is no way to make the inhumane humane, no matter the exemptions or attempts at harm mitigation of a policy rooted in xenophobic and cruel origins. What’s more, that the U.S. and Mexican governments are willing to expand the populations who can now be subject to MPP signals an even deeper betrayal of the promises President Biden made while on the campaign trail. U.S. border policy today is rooted even further on an approach that creates harm and disorder rather than builds a humane, just, and dignified asylum system. U.S. border policy today is rooted even further on an approach that creates harm and disorder rather than builds a humane, just, and dignified asylum system. The administration must reverse course, and stand by the words in its memo terminating this policy once and for all.”

 

“It is distressing to see this flawed program reinstated while its long-term fate is still being decided by U.S. courts. For years, Save the Children has shed light on the deeply flawed nature of MPP, which very clearly puts children and families at risk of harm and limits their access to long-standing legal protections,” said Janti Soeripto, President and CEO of Save the Children U.S. “This country – together with Mexico – must ensure asylum-seeking children and families are treated as human beings, with dignity and respect. This begins with ending MPP, once and for all. We must remember that asylum-seeking children are escaping violence and extreme poverty in their own countries – the same harsh and dangerous conditions often found in the border cities the U.S. government is knowingly and willingly forcing them to wait in. Children deserve better from this country, and must be protected at each step of the asylum process.”

 

“We have spoken to many children who have told us of the emotional stress the MPP program has caused them. One child detailed how he and his family fled to the U.S. after being kidnapped in Honduras. When they arrived at the border, they willingly gave themselves into the custody and safety of U.S. immigration officials, only to be sent to Mexico. Another child heartbreakingly told us how he ‘spent three days alone crying’ after being separated from his family before being sent back to Mexico,” said María Josefina Menéndez, CEO of Save the Children Mexico. “Such treatment is unacceptable. The U.S. and Mexico must work together to ensure the safety of returned children. Mexico, alone, cannot bear the asylum responsibilities of both countries.”

 

“The Biden administration has broken its promise to restore access to a humane asylum system at the border. There is no humane way to implement the Remain in Mexico program and provide people the protections they are guaranteed by law.  The Migrant Protection Protocols eliminated due process for 70,000 people and forced vulnerable families to run a gauntlet of kidnappers and extortionists just to get to the courtroom door. Now the Biden administration will again send vulnerable people into the lion’s den,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council. “We categorically reject the Biden administration’s claims that it can administer the Remain in Mexico program in a more humane manner. Today is a dark day for the United States and for the rule of law. The longer the administration delays terminating this unlawful and cruel policy, the more people will suffer.”

 

“The Biden administration bears full responsibility for this reinstatement. They stood by for months after a court order put a clear choice before them: either terminate based on the full record of atrocities endemic to MPP, or restart the program. Two months went by until they issued this overdue termination. Meanwhile, disturbing reports revealed that members of the Biden administration co-signed the Trump program along with their continued use of deadly Title 42 expulsions for their own anti-asylum purposes. Every child, adult, or family subjected to this reinstatement will suffer because this administration failed to uphold their lawful right to seek asylum on U.S. soil,” said Lisa Koop, Associate Director of Legal Services of the National Immigrant Justice Center. “Any version of MPP, even one with attempted humanitarian safeguards, will place thousands of migrants and asylum seekers in danger. Once again, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) calls on the Biden administration to end this inhumane program.”

 

“The Biden administration has written a new memo to end MPP, one that states in unusually strong language that Remain in Mexico is dangerous and unworkable. Despite this admission, our country is joining with Mexico, under US court order, to add this to our arsenal of cruelty. Whether a person coming to our gates is hit with Title 42 and expelled, across bridges or by plane, or allowed to fill out forms to appear in court after a harrowing stay in places that our State Department tells us are too dangerous to even visit, is a matter of discretion. Both policies are part of a larger framework that is aimed at keeping the desperation caused by poverty, violence, and inequality out of sight and out of mind. Both use brutality to turn away asylum seekers who come to our gates. Both deny humanity, theirs and ours.”–said Joshua Rubin, Founder, Witness at the Border.

 

“We are long overdue to restore asylum at the US-Mexico border. We can no longer afford half-measures or backsliding and the return of MPP is a devastating step in the wrong direction. Now is the time for the United States to restore robust protections for asylum seekers and refugees and put in place forward-looking and humane systems at the border that honor the rights of people on the move,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of the Hope Border Institute.

 

“Many of our Jewish ancestors perished in the Holocaust because the doors to the United States were closed. Some got to our shores and were returned to Europe to be murdered by the Nazis. As a result of this atrocity, the US and the world recognized and enshrined into law that those fleeing for their lives have the right to seek asylum. The Migrant Protection Policy denies people who are fleeing for their lives the right to seek asylum, violating US and international law. In 2020, our group visited the tent camp in Matamoros, MX, and learned first-hand the devastating impact of the illegal and inhumane Migrant Protection Protocol on real people who have committed no crime and are just trying to survive. Every legal avenue must immediately be pursued to make sure that MPP is NEVER reinstated. NEVER AGAIN.” Karen Levine from Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice.  

 

“The restart and expansion of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is unconscionable. To say that this decision will cost lives is not exaggeration, but near fact. Thousands have already been victimized by this cruel and inhumane program, forced to exist in perilous circumstances or returned to the very danger they fled in the first place,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at CWS. “With both Title 42 and MPP in place, mothers, fathers, and their children will be put at risk in Mexico, and thousands of Haitians will be expelled back to Haiti, despite widespread unrest and crisis in that country. The politics of exclusion and marginalization that this ill-conceived program was created under should not dictate a U.S. immigration policy. The Biden administration must reconsider immediately and instead, fully restore asylum.”

 

“There is no safe way to return people to danger,” said Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice. “The United States has a legal and moral obligation to provide for the safety of those legally requesting asylum at our borders, embassies and ports of entry and, unlike the previous president, we expect the current president to take our legal and moral obligations seriously. Returning those seeking safety to wait in uncertain and dangerous conditions has a disgraceful track record of murder, assault, rape and kidnapping. Let’s be clear, Trump policies were designed to make sure valid claims of asylum never reached the inside of a U.S. court of law to be evaluated fairly on their merits by a judge. That should never be the goal of our asylum policy again. ‘Remain in Mexico’ was ineffective, cruel and indefensible under the last president and remains so under President Biden.”

 

“With today’s announcement, the Biden Administration has taken a step back and chosen once again to continue upholding the inhumane and illegal Trump-era immigration policies that prevent asylum seekers from seeking protection and instead send them back to danger, said Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy & Operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “There is no ‘better’ or ‘improved’ version of the Migrant Protection Protocols – better known as ‘Remain in Mexico.’ Instead of continuing to implement this harmful policy, the Biden Administration should make every effort to terminate MPP and transfer individuals currently enrolled in it to other dockets as soon as possible.”

 

Managing Attorney of ImmDef’s Cross-Border Initiative, Margaret Cargioli, shared, “MPP is a proven human rights failure. It deprives human beings in need of protection from access to counsel and access to safety from harm and poverty. We urge you to contact your representatives and ask them to restore the U.S. asylum system at the border in order to welcome persons fleeing abusive spouses, repressive regimes, political oppression, and LGBTQ who cannot live their truth in their country of origin.”

 

“This restarting and expansion of Remain in Mexico represents an abject failure by the Biden administration to uphold respect for human dignity and its own campaign promises to end the draconian immigration policies of the Trump era,”  said Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center. “We will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable for the cruelty and harm it has decided to perpetuate and vigorously advocate for the fair, orderly, and humane asylum process we know is possible.”

 

“Under the Remain in Mexico program, the United States and Mexico knowingly subject thousands of asylum seekers to persecution and serious harm in Mexico at the hands of both cartels and Mexican government officials,” said Ari Sawyer, US Border Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Human Rights Watch has documented the systematic targeting of asylum seekers in Mexico by state and non-state actors for kidnapping and extortion, especially in the state of Tamaulipas where the Biden administration has said it plans to send asylum seekers yet again. The few so-called ‘humanitarian improvements’ are meaningless considering the government agencies tasked with carrying out the Remain in Mexico program on both sides of the border have been implicated in the wide array of abuses endemic to the program and continue to operate with near total impunity. The governments of the United States and Mexico should reverse course immediately.” 

 

“Despite advocates shouting over the top of our voices about the horrific rapes, kidnapping, assaults, torture, and less than humane living conditions of asylum seekers in Mexico subject to MPP in the past, it is being reinstated! We have once again missed the mark on humanity by reinstating MPP.  It is devoid of due process, legality,  humanity, and morality. ” — Charlene D’Cruz, Director of Project Corazon, Lawyers for Good Government.

 

“The reinstatement of MPP constitutes an unconscionable violation of the internationally recognized rights of migrants and asylum seekers on both sides of the border, for which both US and Mexican authorities must be held fully accountable. Their complicity and collusion in this context, only days after a UN mission has highlighted the “structural impunity” which characterizes Mexico’s response to over 95,000 forced disappearances on its territory is outrageous and unacceptable. This is further underlined by the recent finding by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission that since 2011 over 70,000 migrants have been trafficked or kidnapped during their transit through the country. US and Mexican authorities are thus jointly responsible for the crimes against humanity that are predictable as a result of the decision to restore MPP,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, on behalf of the International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement, and as co-chair of the Task Force on the Americas of the National Lawyers’ Guild

 

“The Biden administration’s memo restarting and expanding the Remain-in-Mexico policy is fundamentally inconsistent with human rights and U.S. law,” said Richard Caldarone, litigation counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center. “The original Remain-in-Mexico policy caused untold numbers of women and girls—many of whom were already fleeing domestic and sexual violence—to face severe gender-based violence in Mexico, and the memo does nothing to acknowledge their unique vulnerabilities or protect against such violence going forward. This memo also does not solve the glaring inadequacies when it comes to representation. As a result, we know that many asylum seekers will continue to proceed without lawyers in immigration court. Ultimately, the reinstatement of Remain-in-Mexico—when combined with the illegal Title 42 policy that bars even those vaccinated against COVID-19 from seeking asylum on unfounded public health grounds—functionally ends the possibility of asylum for people who arrive in the United States via the southern border.  The Biden Administration should be doing everything in its power to prevent further humanitarian disaster and make good on its promise to restore a humane asylum system on our border, not restarting a harmful policy that has no basis in law and perpetuates trauma among survivors of violence who have already endured unspeakable horrors.” 

 

“By not only reimplementing but expanding the  Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), the Biden administration is breaking its campaign promise to end this inhumane program,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA. “The administration’s insistence on including all nationalities in the western hemisphere, including the tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing a collapsed home country as well as extreme racism in other parts of Latin America, goes beyond the Texas court’s order to reimplement MPP ‘in good faith’. This program simply does not respect due process, access to counsel, and the basic bodily safety of asylum-seekers stranded in extremely dangerous parts of Mexico. The Biden administration will no longer be able to call the MPP a Trump policy. It is now a Biden policy, and a deadly and heart-breaking one at that.”

“MPP creates harmful risks for asylum seekers who are pushed back across the U.S.-Mexico border, where they encounter dangerous conditions similar to those that they were escaping,” said Olga Byrne, Director of Immigration for the International Rescue Committee. “U.S. border communities have shown time and again that they have the capacity and will to welcome asylum seekers. We urge the Biden Administration to continue to work to end MPP for good, living up to its international obligations and prior commitments, and to work with welcoming communities to implement a safe and dignified system to receive asylum seekers.”

“Reinstating MPP is a stain on our nation,” said Anna Gallagher, CLINIC’s executive director. “It is a dangerous and deadly policy. As happened during its prior implementation, vulnerable men, women and children will suffer denigration, disrespect, assaults, rapes and murders. It is inhumane, unjust, and violates our obligations under our own legal system and international refugee law. Mr. President, we implore you to follow the Catholic values that form the foundation of your life-long public leadership of our country. It is time to draw on those values and prioritize the lives of the suffering men, women and children waiting at our border over politics. It is time that you do what is humane and stop MPP.”   

 

“President Biden is breaking his promise to asylum seekers by reinstating the unlawful Remain in Mexico policy,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG Co-director. “We cannot say that the Biden Administration is working towards restoring access to asylum at our border if it continues to perpetuate Trump era policies that return women, men, and families to death and danger. This is not building back better. We urge the Biden Administration to reverse course and use all of its power to appeal the court order forcing this reinstatement. Insteads of collaborating with the Mexican government to block people from accessing refuge, the Biden Administration should be working with governments to expand access to protection. Only then, will President Biden be living up to his promise to welcome those fleeing persecution in their homes.”

 

“Time and time again, President Biden and the administration have affirmed that the Migrant Protect Protocols (MPP) have ‘endemic flaws’ and ‘imposed unjustifiable costs,’ yet they continue to re-implement this heinous and inhumane policy, and in this case, expanding its reach further to include Haitians,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “MPP will be re-implemented while Title 42 is still in effect, essentially closing our border to people seeking asylum. The United States has obligations under international and domestic law to uphold the right to seek asylum and it is failing. The Biden administration must restore access to asylum now.”

 

“The restarted ‘Remain in Mexico’ program is a disaster for people who only want what we all want – safety and an opportunity to live their lives free from violence and persecution.,” said Andrew Geibel, Policy Counsel at HIAS. “There is no ‘humane’ way to implement a program which places asylum seekers in danger and makes legal representation nearly impossible. The administration must reverse course, not use the court order as an excuse to expand the Remain in Mexico program, and work to legally re-end the program for good.”

 

“Despite the Biden administration’s purported efforts to have addressed certain ‘humanitarian concerns about the previous implementation’ of the policy, this iteration contains few differences from that imposed during the Trump era. The vulnerability exceptions in the new guidance remain far too narrow, and the provisions regarding access to counsel are a far cry from meaningful representation,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project. “The Biden administration cannot continue to proceed as if minor tweaks can fix this inherently flawed policy. Instead, the administration should focus its energy and resources on fighting this illegal policy every way it can and establishing a fair and humane asylum process for all those who seek protection.” 

 

“MPP has already given rise to over 1,500 reported violent attacks against people forced to wait in Mexico, including kidnapping, rape, and murder, as neither U.S. nor Mexican authorities guaranteed their safety. No attacks against asylum seekers should be acceptable,” said Stephanie Brewer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights at WOLA. “Seeking asylum is legal, and the U.S. and Mexican governments claim to want legal, safe, and orderly migration. But by continuing Title 42 and now reinstating MPP, they violate asylum seekers’ rights and subject them to conditions that are the definition of illegal, unsafe, and chaotic.”

 

“The failure of President Biden to rescind the cruel, Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy with the speed and urgency the circumstances require means that thousands of deaths, kidnappings, sexual assaults, and extortion of children and families seeking a better life will continue to happen right on our doorstep,” Jess Morales Rocketto, Co-founder of Families Belong Together. “President Biden continues to break campaign promises, and now children and families will suffer under this unconscionable and racist policy.”

 

“It is appalling that this administration is reverting back to the shameful and inhumane policies of its predecessor, reneging on promises to protect the rights of asylum seekers and jeopardizing the futures of thousands of people seeking refuge, said Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director of Refugee Congress. “We strongly urge the Biden administration to permanently do away with MPP, and begin the work of building a humane, just, and accessible asylum system.”

 

“The Florence Project is dismayed and deeply disappointed to learn that the Biden administration has officially restarted MPP – a program that effectively forces migrants seeking U.S. protection to wait for months in notoriously dangerous Mexican border regions while they fight their asylum cases” said Chelsea Sachau, border attorney with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “As we and countless other organizations have stated time and again, there is no way to make MPP safe, humane, or just. Despite campaign promises to restore a safe, orderly asylum process, the Biden administration has done the opposite by continuing allowing, and in fact embracing, Trump-era racist, anti-immigrant policies like MPP and Title 42. Every single day we meet people who report serious danger and harm in Mexico as they wait to seek safety in the U.S. There is no gentler or fairer way to send people back to Mexico while they pursue asylum. We call on the Biden administration to act immediately to end all Trump-era policies that restrict access to protection in the United States and focus its efforts and considerable resources allocated to immigration enforcement to build a safe, orderly, and just asylum process.”

“MPP denies people the right to seek asylum and exposes tens of thousands of individuals and families to real, damaging, and even life-threatening harm as they await processing of their asylum cases in U.S. immigration courts,” said the Immigration Hub’s Executive Director, Sergio Gonzales. “MPP was designed to be cruel and dangerous as an ineffective deterrence mechanism and no amount of humanitarian measures can protect against its rotten core. Secretary Mayorkas reached the same conclusion when he issued a second memo to terminate MPP in October. The American people want a working immigration system that is just, safe and humane, not an expansion of policies that delay protection and push people back into danger. Today is also the result of yet another anti-immigrant decision by a right-wing court. This administration must not relent. It should fight this case on its merits, bravely taking risks to avoid MPP’s violent consequences. End MPP now.”

 

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Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.  

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 90 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

#WelcomeWithDignity and Partners Deliver 200,000+ Signatures Demanding Biden Restore Asylum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2021

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | press@welcomewithdignity.org

 

#WelcomeWithDignity and Partners Deliver 200,000+ Signatures Demanding Biden Restore Asylum

 

Washington — This week, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign and partners delivered more than 200,000 signatures demanding President Biden take immediate action to restore the right to seek asylum by reversing Title 42 and stopping the reimplementation of ‘Remain in Mexico.’ Policies set by his predecessor. The delivery of petitions from groups such as Daily Kos, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), HIAS, and faith groups was the culmination of a week of action organized by the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign aimed at restoring the right of people fleeing danger to seek safety in the United States. During the week of action, constituents, advocates and experts met with dozens of congressional offices to raise their concerns over current policies and urge members of Congress to  pressure the Biden administration to restore asylum. The week of action ended with doctors and faith leaders standing in solidarity with asylum seekers outside the White House urging the President to end Trump-era policies and keep his campaign promise of more humane immigration policies. 

 

“Today, more than 200,000 people from across the country stood up to demand that President Biden stop expelling refugees at the border under the cruel and illegal Title 42 policy,” said Noah Gottschalk, Global Policy Lead at Oxfam America. “The Biden administration must no longer cave to the political pressure from a small fringe of anti-refugee xenophobes and instead must fulfill this country’s promise as a safe haven for all persecuted people. It’s time to listen to an overwhelming number of voices who support refugees and end Title 42 once and for all.”

“More than 200,000 people have joined us to say: the United States must uphold the fundamental human right to seek asylum,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “This week experts,advocates and constituents  met with Congress and delivered petitions to the administration spelling out solutions on how the United States can restore our asylum system to once again be a beacon of hope for people seeking safety. It’s past time for President Biden to endracist policies promulgated by the Trump administration and uphold the dignity of people seeking asylum.”

“Migration is a human right, and Daily Kos urges Pres. Biden to reverse the racist, anti-immigrant Title 42 policy. Now more than ever, asylum seekers need protection and safety–their lives depend on it,” said Carolyn Fiddler, communications director for Daily Kos. “Expulsions are inhumane, and they become even more so during an ongoing pandemic. Ending Title 42 and Migrant Protection Protocols are crucial steps we can take to ensure that asylum seekers receive due process.”

“Using Title 42 to block the entry of refugees into the U.S. is an absolute abomination. It goes against what Americans have stood for throughout our nation’s history—creating a safe and prosperous future for people who escape persecution” said Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director, Immigration Equality. “The hard truth is that the policy is really about keeping vulnerable human beings out. People who are LGBTQ or living with HIV, Black and African migrants, are all at extreme risk in Mexico. Anti-LGBTQ and racist violence at the border is well-documented. Title 42 is not protecting America’s health; it’s putting immigrants and refugees in mortal peril.”

 

“For over a year and a half, HIAS and other Jewish voices have consistently and repeatedly called for the end of Title 42 expulsions,” said Rebecca Kirzner, Senior Director of Grassroots Campaigns at HIAS. “Title 42 is an abuse of our public health laws that puts people in danger and denies them their right to seek asylum. This petition represents thousands of people calling on the administration to stop this horrific policy, and the petition also represents thousands of people urging Congress to join our effort to restore asylum at the border. Policymakers must stop making excuses, uphold our American values, and end Title 42 expulsions.”

 

“The Biden administration promised to adopt a fairer and more humane approach to the asylum process at the southern border, said Jonathan Blazer, Director of Border Strategies at the ACLU. “But his continuation of Trump-era policies continues to place people who seek safety in grave danger.  It is past time to bring a complete end to policies — such as Title 42 and the Remain in Mexico program – that unlawfully prevent people seeking protection at the border from pursuing their asylum claims in the U.S.  The Biden administration can and must do better, by using tools at its disposal to safely screen people seeking asylum at the border, and by  investing in community-based services that offer critical support and welcome people with dignity.”

 

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 90 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

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MPP Termination Memo is a Step Towards What Advocates and Experts Have Been Demanding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 29, 2021

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | press@welcomewithdignity.org | 646-899-9722

 

MPP Termination Memo is a Step Towards What Advocates and Experts Have Been Demanding

A Welcome but Insufficient First Step

 

Washington Today, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign welcomed the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new memo indicating its intention to terminate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — a deadly policy, also known as “Remain In Mexico,” that flouted the United States’ obligations to people seeking protection under international asylum law. In the memo, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledges what #WelcomeWithDignity partners have long said. The cost on human life was “intolerable” and there are “inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix.” The termination memo comes just two weeks after advocates from the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign walked out of a virtual meeting with administration officials because they refused to be complicit in the implementation of MPP and demanded the administration immediately issue a memo terminating the policy. Shortly after issuing the memo, the administration asked the Fifth Circuit to vacate a flawed lower court ruling that had ordered the resumption of MPP.

 

“I joined a lawsuit challenging MPP because the policy caused me a lot of pain and denied me my right to ask for asylum,” said Gregory*, an asylum seeker subjected to MPP. “I’m glad to hear the government recognize the harm it caused so many like me. It wouldn’t be fair to block asylum seekers from entering the United States. Those of us who fled Central America were in danger in the border area where criminals and narcos prayed on migrants. This intimidation and crime made me very afraid and I hope the government makes sure nobody else has to suffer that again.”

*Name changed to protect anonymity

 

The memo recognizes what we have been telling the President and the DHS Secretary, that there is no way to implement MPP in any safe or legal manner,” said Melina Roche, Campaign Manager.  “Putting people who are seeking safety in harm’s way is not what the U.S. government should be doing and does not conform with the U.S. or international law. The U.S. must reestablish a safe, transparent, accurate, and efficient asylum process and protect those who are seeking safety in our country. So if and when MPP is fully quashed – and that is not fully clear yet –  the Biden administration also has a great deal of work to do to end Title 42, reestablish the asylum system devastated by the previous president, and continue to implement their strategy to address immigration and asylum in a coherent and regional manner to make migration safe, legal and more orderly over time.” 

 

“Reimplementing MPP, while knowing that it does not truly bring solutions and puts people sent to Mexico under MPP at risk of crimes and limbo, is completely inhuman and senseless.” Said Estuardo Cifuentes, Client Services Manager, Project Corazon, Lawyers for Good Government. Cifuentes is currently in MPP and paroled into the US as an open case.

 

“This memorandum, while long overdue, is very welcome as it makes clear the devastating impact the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy has had on tens of thousands of men, women and children who were forced into precarious, life-threatening situations,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project. “The additional step of moving to vacate the injunction in Texas v. Biden is commendable. Now, the administration must work to fulfill their promise of a fair and humane asylum process by giving everyone affected by this policy a meaningful opportunity to present their claims for asylum or other relief.”

 

“This memo, which immigrant communities and advocates have demanded for months, is a welcomed step towards restoring asylum at the border and building a fair, humane, and orderly process,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center. “However, what matters most is that policy changes like these translate into tangible relief and safety for asylum seekers. The administration must move swiftly to process endangered asylum seekers currently stranded in Mexico due to MPP,  undo hundreds of cases of unaccompanied children, and end Title42, in order to restore asylum at the border.”

 

“We are glad that the administration has finally heeded the calls of the immigrant rights community and is taking steps to end the MPP once and for all,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “There is no safe, fair, or legal way to reinstate a policy designed to deprive asylum seekers of their rights. We hope the administration’s acknowledgment of the devastating harms caused by MPP will be followed by concrete action to restore asylum processing at the southern border. Not one more person should be placed in MPP and expulsions under Title 42, which expose asylum seekers to the very same dangers, must end.”

 

 

 

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 90 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

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Asylum Advocates Keep Up Pressure After Walking Out on Biden Administration over MPP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2021

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | press@welcomewithdignity.org 

 

Asylum Advocates Keep Up Pressure After Walking Out on Biden Administration over MPP

“MPP is deadly and racist in intent and impact”

 

Washington Earlier today, asylum advocates and legal service providers held a press briefing to decry the Biden administration’s decision to restart the Remain in Mexico program. A recording of the call is available here

 

A number of organizations discussed their participation in Saturday’s walkout during a meeting with administration officials, the letter sent to the Biden administration by 73 legal service providers, law school clinics, and law firms in response to the restart of this program, and urge the administration to do everything in its power to prevent a return to MPP. The letter was delivered to the President and Vice President, as well as Jake Sullivan of the National Security Council and Attorney General Merrick Garland Tuesday. 

 

The IRC stands in solidarity with the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who were subjected to MPP and with the organizations who have worked diligently to fight against this fatally broken and brutal policy,” Alex Miller, International Rescue Committee, Arizona said. “By restarting MPP, the Biden Administration is choosing to ignore the U.S.’s legal obligations not to return asylum-seekers to harm, aware that thousands of asylum-seekers subjected to the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy were kidnapped, raped, and even murdered. We are disappointed to see the administration move forward in implementing a policy that is fundamentally inhumane and strips asylum-seekers of their right to due process.”

 

“MPP is not a legal process and it is definitely not due process,” said Charlene D’Cruz, Project Corazon- Lawyers for Good Government. “There is no version of MPP that is fair, legal, just, or humane.  The only moral and legal option is to revoke it completely, along with a complete revocation of Title 42, thereby ensuring legal asylum processes at the US – Mexico border.”

 

“There is no such thing as a more humane version of a program that has directly led to such extreme pain and suffering, said Margaret Cargioli, Managing Attorney of Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Reinstating the Remain in Mexico policy will directly lead to the loss of human lives. Any version of this deadly policy is fundamentally unacceptable.” 

 

“Migrant Protection Protocols do not protect anyone, these protocols perpetrate torture, harm, and even death. It creates an industry of trafficking and extorsion that benefits from those in dire need. MPP kills from the inside out,” said Tania Guerrero of CLINIC’s Estamos Unidos Asylum Project. “Legal organizations are not the band-aid. We have gone above and beyond and have failed because the system is flawed and illegal. The U.S. Government has the choice to not reinstate MPP just like it has the choice to end Title 42. In its failure to terminate such practices, it sends a definitive message that others are simply not welcome. The Biden administration must stop this deadly course of action now. We, CLINIC, and I cannot and will not be complicit any longer.”

 

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of 90 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

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Asylum Advocates Speak Out after Walking Out on Biden Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2021

CONTACT: press@welcomewithdignity.org 

 

Asylum Advocates Speak Out after Walking Out on Biden Administration

“We refuse to be complicit”

 

Washington Earlier today, asylum advocates from the Southern Border and national allies walked out of a meeting with high-level Biden officials in protest of the government’s plans to reinstate the cruel and inhumane Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ program also known as MPP. Representatives from groups in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Black-led organizations read from a prepared statement and denied the administration’s assertions that they were compelled to reinstate MPP by court order

 

Since President Biden took office, human rights investigators have documented over 6,300 violent attacks on people expelled to Mexico because of Title 42,  a similar mass expulsion policy. And President Biden himself called MPP ‘dangerous and inhumane’ while on the campaign trail. 

 

“Black asylum seekers at the border are vulnerable to anti-Blackness from both sides of the border as BAJI’s report “There is a Target on Us” shows. They are disproportionately harmed by the Biden administration’s racist border policies,” said Nana Gyamfi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). “MPP, Title 42, and even the metering system are inhumane and unlawful policies that mark Black asylum seekers for violence and death. President Biden should have terminated MPP long ago but instead has chosen to double down on violent Trump-era policies. BAJI is proud to have joined our partners in walking out of today’s fallacious meeting with the White House. We demand that this administration keeps its promise of racial equity.” 

 

“Today, we joined other border advocates in walking out of this meeting with the Biden administration after nearly a year of trying to engage productively with them to build back a fair, humane asylum system,” said Chelsea Sachau, a Border Action Team Attorney with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “This week’s announcement that the administration is moving forward to re-implement MPP, a policy that has put hundreds of thousands of people in harm’s way, was the final straw. We stand in solidarity with the people seeking asylum whose lives are on the line and refuse to be complicit in deterrence-based border policies that prioritize politics over human lives. We hope today’s action makes President Biden and his administration finally listen.”

 

“We stand alongside our brothers and sisters working along the border and stand against MPP and Title 42, said Ariana Saludares, Co-Founder and President of Colores United. “We have seen firsthand the results of these inhumane policies along our New Mexico borders. We look forward to the period where all in peril are able to seek the right to asylum afforded to them.”

 

“The Biden administration has had two months to issue a new memo to terminate Remain in Mexico. Their insistence that these things take time rings hollow in light of their swift action during the same period to send 73 flights full of Haitians including babies and pregnant women to danger or worse and makes clear where their priorities lie. Let me be clear: continuing MPP and Title 42 are deliberate policy choices to perpetuate programs that are rooted in racism.” Guerline Jozef, Haitian Bridge Alliance. 

 

“The right to seek asylum must be restored and the egregious and dangerous policies that deny this right must be rescinded.  We will continue to push back against this Administration until they do the right thing.  MPP and Title 42 must end now.”  Jessica Corley, Director of Asylum Program, Albuquerque FaithWorks Collaborative.



The full text of the statement ready by advocates during the meeting is available here. #WelcomeWithDignity’s statement on the administration’s inexcusable plan to resume MPP is available here

 

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Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity.  

The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 85 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