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#WelcomeWithDignity: Biden is Wrong to Embrace Trump’s Title 42

WASHINGTON – President Biden announced a series of changes to migration and border policy today, with wide-ranging implications for people seeking safety and refuge in the United States. Following are quotes from members of the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign. See also the campaign’s recommendations to restore asylum

“Today, President Biden reiterated what we’ve always known: seeking asylum is 100% legal and part of America’s long-standing commitment to protecting people fleeing persecution. However, the administration violates the legal right to seek asylum by telling people not to come to the border and expanding Title 42 expulsions. The U.S. should strengthen our asylum process while providing additional protections for people,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “Expanding Title 42 and eventually replacing it with expedited removal undermines the legal right to seek asylum. Title 42 has been a deadly policy that puts vulnerable people, particularly Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ people, in danger. Finally, expedited removal violates due process, in which immigration officers serve both as prosecutors and judges.”

“President Biden correctly noted in his remarks today that seeking asylum is a human right and he claimed not to like the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy. But the regulatory changes he announced negate the right to apply for asylum and expand  Title 42 to more nationalities,” said Efrén C. Olivares, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, in response to President Joe Biden’s plans to extend the Title 42 expulsion policy to Haitians, Cubans and Nicaraguans; expand the use of the expedited removal process; restrict access to ports of entry for people seeking asylum; and narrow eligibility criteria for asylum. “Seeking asylum is legal, no matter how someone arrives in the country and regardless of whether someone has a U.S.-based financial sponsor. These changes will directly harm mostly Black and Brown migrants, both at the border — where they will be stuck in Mexico, vulnerable to extortion, kidnapping and violence — and in countries like Cuba and Haiti, where people will increasingly take to the seas and risk death to seek safety. We opposed these policies under the Trump administration, and we oppose them now. During a time of increased global migration and instability, we call on the Biden administration to reject the xenophobic, racist policies of the Trump administration and recommit to this country’s decades-long guarantee to people fleeing persecution that we will welcome and protect them.”

“The administration is going far beyond any court requirement by expanding the repugnant Trump/Miller Title 42 expulsion policy to Haitians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans. This expansion again calls into question the resolve of this administration to ‘restore the soul of America.’ Instead of reinstating the full legal right to asylum for those fleeing to us as a safe harbor, the administration is once again slamming the door in their faces, acquiescing to anti-immigrant rantings rather than mustering the courage to do what is fair, right, and just. Resurrecting the Miller/Trump transit ban is equally deplorable. These actions will exacerbate the already abysmal conditions for migrants that we witness every day in Mexican border cities, where all governments have failed to provide even the minimal level of humanitarian sustenance,” said Thomas Cartwright in leadership with Witness at the Border.

“Once again, the United States government makes decisions regardless of the harm it will bring to people seeking the already limited right to asylum,” said Pedro De Velasco, Director of Education and Advocacy with the Kino Border Initiative. “In October, the administration began expelling Venezuelans seeking asylum to Mexico and labeled it a ‘success.’ Since the fall, we have seen more Venezuelans stranded in Nogales, Sonora than the rest of the year. The determination to extend the expulsions to Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Haitian people who seek protection from the violence and persecution they are desperately fleeing in their countries is cruel and inhumane. Enough already!”

“The expansion of Title 42 to include Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans is a broken promise,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director, Hope Border Institute. “Rather than putting our country on a sure path to fully restoring asylum at the border, these new actions by the Biden administration entrench a dangerous, ineffective, and inhumane policy where those in need of protection at the border are summarily expelled. The poor and vulnerable at our nation’s doorstep deserve more. Border communities will continue to work hard to pick up the broken pieces of our nation’s immigration system and show that our future lies not with expulsion and deportation, but with humanity and hope.”

“We are deeply angered and saddened by the news that the Biden administration is not only expanding Title 42 but also other anti-asylum, anti-immigrant policies,” said Chelsea Sachau, Managing Attorney of the Florence Project’s Border Action Team. “Today’s announcement belies how deeply this administration has bought into the false, right-wing vision of the situation at the border in which asylum seekers are abusing the system and making false claims. Seeking asylum in the United States is fully legal, whether one presents at a port of entry or crosses between ports of entry. Today’s announcement misses that entirely and further eviscerates the asylum system as we know it. These are not theoretical policy debates but rather decisions that impact the lives of thousands of people. Once again, this administration is prioritizing the politics of Washington, D.C. over people’s safety. This is an enormous step in the wrong direction from both a humanitarian and a policy perspective.”  

“The Biden Administration’s newly announced border policies reshape access to asylum by continuing the callous tradition of trading off limited temporary benefits for increases in removal and enforcement policies that harm those most in need of safety.  By repackaging Trump’s failed and illegal immigration policies, President Biden is reducing our immigration system into a single focus of removal and deterrence, not humane processing, said Karla Marisol Vargas, Senior Attorney at Texas Civil Rights Project. “Continuing the use of Title 42 was unacceptable, but the Administration expanding it is reprehensible – as is the plan to reinstate a Trump-like transit ban that will bar many from ever accessing our legal system, as Title 42 has done for the past 3 years. Moreover, although the new parole program for Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Cubans will undoubtedly provide safety for some, the administration should not condition this limited grant of hope on the expansion of policies that will absolutely harm the many excluded from this policy.  TCRP will continue to fight until we have a system that humanely allows for individuals seeking safety to be welcomed.”

The Biden administration’s increased border enforcement measures announced today are discriminatory and dangerous. We cannot say this enough: asylum in this country is a legal and human right. Cherry-picking people from specific countries undermines our laws that guarantee people, regardless of country, race, ethnicity, or language, the right to seek protection at our border through a fundamentally fair proceeding,” said Mary Miller Flowers, Senior Policy Analyst at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “The right to asylum should never hinge on your manner of flight from danger nor your financial means—or connection to financial resources—and especially not your race or country you’re fleeing from. The Biden administration must return to its commitment to the rule of law and protect all individuals seeking safety in the U.S.”

“ASAP strongly condemns the Biden administration restricting access to asylum by both expanding Title 42 to include Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan nationals and instituting a transit ban first developed by the Trump administration,” said Conchita Cruz, Co-Executive Director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP). “As a membership organization of asylum seekers, many of our members have family who are fleeing persecution and who will now be denied their legal rights to seek asylum. Asking people who are fleeing for their lives to wait in the face of imminent danger is not just unreasonable, it is completely unacceptable and inhumane.”

“President Biden campaigned on a message that he ‘would end Trump’s detrimental asylum policies,’” said Victoria Neilson, Supervising Attorney at the National Immigration Project. “Today he is reneging on his promise of a more humane system, and expanding the use of Title 42 and expedited removal to deny asylum seekers the right to seek safety in the United States. We will fight these measures with all of the tools at our disposal.”

“Instead of working hand-in-glove with direct service providers at the border, Biden is instead re-packaging failed Trump-era asylum ideas,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center. “This isn’t just disappointing, it is in conflict with what most Americans want for our nation. The changes announced today prevent countless people from even having the opportunity to plead their case, effectively slamming the nation’s doors on those who are most in need.”

“Today President Biden proudly touted his commitment to providing legal pathways for asylum seekers and improving conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border. These were empty words,” said Kate Jastram, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “By expanding its deadly Title 42 policy to Haitians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans, the Biden administration is going far beyond what any court has required it to do. This expansion will put vulnerable refugees in harm’s way and exacerbate violence and chaos in border communities. People fleeing persecution have a legal right to seek asylum at our border under both U.S. and international law, no matter how they get here, no matter who they know, and no matter what documents they hold. Many are forced to escape their homes under threat of death at a moment’s notice, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Their rights should never be supplanted by limited and discriminatory parole programs that offer relief only to a lucky few. We are also deeply disturbed that the administration has announced plans to revive and repackage the Trump-era asylum transit ban. President Biden cannot pledge to hold the ‘torch of liberty’ aloft, then turn around and embrace the most inhumane, anti-refugee policies of his predecessors.”

“Today, President Biden announced additional enforcement actions which will further restrict the rights of migrants to seek asylum in the United States,” said Pedro Rios, Director of the US-Mexico Border Program for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). “The administration is expanding the use of Title 42, which is an archaic public health order that empowers Border Patrol agents to expel migrants without recognizing their right to seek asylum under U.S. and international law, and further expedite their removal. We strongly believe that an enforcement approach in response to people seeking safety is misguided and cruel, and will only exacerbate the precarious conditions that endanger the lives of those seeking safe harbor.  We urge the Biden administration to re-prioritize its approach by centering policies on the human rights of migrants seeking asylum in the United States.”

“This administration continues on a dangerous path to replicate some of the worst aspects of the Trump administration’s assaults on the right to asylum,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center. “The narrow pathways announced today cannot replace reopening ports of entry for processing all asylum seekers. The Biden administration must decide to be on the right side of history, one that upholds our decades of domestic and international law protecting the right to asylum. We urge them to change course immediately.” 

“We welcome President Biden’s words about ending prejudice against immigrants and his support for the organizations and border communities serving immigrants. However, we are deeply disappointed that the Biden administration continues to choose failed border policies over just, humane policies that welcome our neighbors seeking safety,” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “While the courts have kept the Title 42 expulsion policy in place, they  do not require the Biden administration to expand it, as announced by DHS today. It is unacceptable to pair what is in effect an asylum ban with a limited, inadequate, stop-gap measure like humanitarian parole. People have the right to seek asylum, regardless of their nationality. As people of faith, we are called to love our neighbor without distinction. Following today’s disappointing announcement of more expedited removals and a third-country transit ban, we commit to renewed advocacy for border policies that affirm every person’s inherent worth and dignity and uphold their human rights.”

“Amnesty International USA condemns the Biden administration’s attack on the human right to seek asylum,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “Today, the Biden Administration fully reversed course on its stated commitment to human rights and racial justice by once again expanding the use of Title 42, announcing rulemaking on an asylum transit ban, expanding the use of expedited removal, and implementing a new system to require appointments through a mobile app for those desperately seeking safety. While we welcome the expanded humanitarian parole program to provide a pathway for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans to apply for protection without having to make the dangerous journey to the border, that must not come at the expense of the human right to seek asylum. These new policies will undoubtedly have a disparate impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people seeking safety. In fact, Amnesty International previously found that the cruel treatment of Haitians under Title 42 subjected Haitian asylum seekers to arbitrary detention and discriminatory and humiliating ill-treatment that amounts to race-based torture.  The United States has both a legal and moral obligation to uphold the right to seek asylum, and over the holidays, we once again saw communities mobilize to welcome asylum seekers with dignity. The Biden administration must reverse course and stop these policies of exclusion, and instead uphold the right to seek asylum and invest in the communities that are stepping up to welcome.” 

“Expanding Title 42 takes U.S. policy in precisely the wrong direction, blocking access to asylum for even more people in need of protection,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “As the Administration itself has argued, Title 42 is a COVID-era policy ungrounded in science and instead has been used as a tool to bypass our legal systems and undermine the right of individuals and families to request asylum.”

“President Biden and his administration are now actively pursuing discredited Trump policies like Title 42 and an asylum ban in an attempt to score political points at the border,” said Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “Opening up new limited pathways for a small percentage of people does not obscure the fact that the Biden Administration is illegally and immorally gutting access to humanitarian protections for the majority of people who have already fled their country seeking freedom and safety. The administration must reverse course immediately.”

“It is unacceptable that the Biden administration is once again going back on the campaign promises it made to restore asylum in the U.S.,” said Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director, Refugee Congress. “For three years now, Title 42 has unlawfully barred vulnerable migrants from seeking safety at our border under the guise of a ‘temporary public health’ measure. These new limited pathways do not diminish the fact that the administration has further endangered asylum-seekers and is actively contributing to the dismantling of the legal right to seek asylum.”

“We are appalled that President Biden is expanding Title 42 and effectively imposing an asylum ban, while saying he does not like the policy,” said Caraline Feairheller, Policy Analyst, Bridges Faith Initiative. “What the United States needs is for the right to asylum to be restored at the border.”

“The Women’s Refugee Commission condemns the Biden administration’s decision to expand the Trump-era Title 42 expulsions to new nationalities, and we are gravely concerned about plans to revive a version of the Trump-era ban on asylum for individuals who traveled through another country,” said Savitri Arvey, senior policy advisor at the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice program. “It is U.S. law that people can apply for asylum, regardless of their nationality or manner of entry. We urge the Biden administration to uphold the right to seek asylum, not expand Trump-era anti-asylum policies.”

“Rather than move to fully restore access to asylum for people fleeing persecution, it’s unconscionable that the Biden administration moved to expand Title 42, increase the use of expedited removal, and implement a transit ban,” said Patricia Stottlemyer, senior domestic policy advisor at Oxfam America. “This is not only morally wrong, it is also dangerously out of step with our legal obligations. Worse yet, these policies will force more asylum seekers into harm’s way and will cost lives. Seeking asylum is a legal and human right—one that must not depend on which country you come from, whether you have a sponsor in the United States, or your manner of entry. Oxfam America stands with asylum seekers and all those seeking safety from harm.”

“For nearly three years, presidents of both parties have used the false pretext of public health to essentially cut off access to asylum in the United States under Title 42,” said Lisa Graybill, vice president of law and policy at the National Immigration Law Center. “ While the recent Supreme Court ruling has temporarily forced the continuation of Title 42 expulsions, the Biden administration is choosing to expand Title 42 to Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Haitians, and introduce additional policies that further erode the legal right to seek asylum. The expanded expulsion policy is paired with new parole programs  that will provide needed temporary relief to a small number of people. However, this relief should not come at the expense of more people being subjected to this cruel relic of the Trump administration, which has immeasurably harmed thousands of people. Instead, we urge the administration to follow through on its campaign promise to end Trump’s detrimental policies, commit to respecting   our asylum laws, and build a 21st century immigration system that recognizes the dignity and humanity inherent in us all.”

“Today’s announcement effectively means that the Biden Administration has chosen to expand the use of Title 42 by adding Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan nationals to the list of those who would be expelled to Mexico if they do not meet the requirements of the new parole program. The Administration’s increased use of expedited removal and reliance on a flawed asylum processing rule means that more people will be deported without sufficient due process,” said Alvaro M. Huerta, Immigrant Defenders Law Center Director of Litigation & Advocacy. “An upcoming proposed rule creating a presumption of asylum ineligibility confirms that the Biden Administration aims to make it harder for asylum seekers to enter the United States. Where is the humanity that Biden promised on the campaign trail?”

“The Biden administration cannot acknowledge that asylum is a human right, along with the dangers that people in Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua face, and in the same breath deny people the opportunity to seek asylum,” said Quixote Center Executive Director Dr. Kim Lamberty. “The expansion of Title 42 for Venezuelans has been disastrous, stranding refugees in dangerous cities along the migratory route with no recourse. While we celebrate any expansions of humanitarian pathways to enter the U.S., the Biden administration’s proposed program will shut out many vulnerable families and people who lack the financial support and resources to qualify. We urge the Biden administration to create a fair and just asylum system that honors the life and dignity of all people, regardless of their class, race, or nationality.”

“It is disappointing to hear that the Biden-Harris administration plans on expanding the effects of Title 42, including proposing a five-year ban on reentry. People escaping life-threatening situations should not be penalized for seeking safety,” said Basma Alawee, Director of We Are All America.  “We urge the Biden administration to implement policies that recognize migrants and refugees’ humanity, and include more humane solutions.” 

“While humanitarian parole programs are certainly helpful and needed, they do not replace the system of asylum which continues to be eroded by expanded use of Title 42,” said Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC. “CLINIC has been firm. Any expansion of Title 42 is misguided and dangerous. Continued use of a harmful, outdated health policy to usurp our legal obligations under international and asylum law is wrong. We urge the Biden administration to maintain access to asylum while it seeks to create other pathways of protection for those seeking safety in the U.S.”


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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: