Washington, DC – President Biden’s proposed changes to asylum and border policy have wide-ranging implications for people seeking safety, as well as the United States’ obligation to provide humanitarian protection. On Sunday, the President travels to El Paso, Texas to further promote his agenda.
On Friday, January 6, border and immigration experts analyzed the administration’s plans and offered recommendations for real, humanitarian reforms that affirm the legal and human right to seek asylum.
Guerline Jozef, Executive Director, Haitian Bridge Alliance said, “While yesterday’s announcement that the administration is opening more pathways for Haitians, Venezuelans, Cubans, and Nicaraguans to come to the United States is a step in the right direction, this announcement does not bring us closer to restoring our broken immigration system. The right for all—regardless of national origin—to seek asylum should be fully restored. The creation of the parole program should not have come at the expense of barring others from exercising their rights to asylum. We are extremely concerned the administration is returning to some of the Trump-era practices of expelling asylum seekers to Mexico without the opportunity to seek protection, and re-introducing an asylum transit ban. We are also extremely concerned that the new parole program will be inaccessible to the most vulnerable among us, particularly those en route to the U.S. border who will be ineligible for this program. We see firsthand the negative consequences and disproportionate impact on Black migrants that the current state of our immigration system brings. We can have a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system that welcomes all with dignity and that is rooted in justice and language access.”
Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso added, “For once, just once, I’d like to see this administration make the moral argument to the rest of the country that we need to put in place an effective, humane, accessible, welcoming, and compassionate system of protection at the border. This is the leadership demanded of the United States at this moment. This is what it means to be a good neighbor to those in the region. This is what it means to be a country that supports human rights. At the end of the day, the expansion of Title 42 to include Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans is a broken promise. Rather than putting our country on a sure path to fully restoring asylum at the border, these new actions entrench a dangerous, ineffective, and inhumane policy.”
According to Pedro Rios, Director of the US-Mexico Border Program, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), “The promise of asylum is an enshrined right under federal law and international agreements meant to respond to tyranny and despair that forces thousands of people to flee their home countries. The United States undermines that promise every day that Title 42 remains in place, and it endangers the lives of those seeking shelter from harm. We call on the Biden administration to reject efforts that undermine the right to asylum, including its own expansion of Title 42 that will foment a disdain of asylum seekers. It must proactively work with, and provide resources to, local, state, and civil society organizations to respond to the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers.”
Said Melissa Crow, Director of Litigation, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), “This week’s policy announcements are completely out of touch with the actual circumstances of people seeking asylum, many of whom arrive at our border fleeing imminent threats to their lives. By doubling down on illegal, Trump-era asylum bans, the Biden administration totally disregards the United States’ legal obligations to protect people fleeing persecution and torture. It has been deeply disturbing to hear the President affirm that seeking asylum is legal, pledge to create a safe and humane process at the border, and then turn around and announce policies that further undermine access to the U.S. asylum process. These reckless policy decisions will exact a horrific human toll and leave a lasting stain on the President’s legacy.”
“While we welcome the creation of new safe pathways, we strongly condemn the Biden administration’s decision to expand use of Title 42 to additional nationalities and its potential resurrection of a new asylum ban that would turn away people seeking refugee protection,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “Instead, we urge the administration to adjust course, end its expansion of Title 42, and abandon its misguided plan to advance an asylum ban. The pursuit of an asylum ban—a policy straight from the Trump playbook—would be a tremendous political miscalculation. It will play into the hands of allies of the former administration by bolstering their messages and normalizing their agenda, cause disorder rather than order, turn away Black and Brown refugees to suffer grave harms, separate families, and subvert refugee law.”