FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today, following a CDC order, the Biden Administration announced that it will end the Title 42 policy on May 23, which has used COVID-19 as pretext to deny migrants the right to seek asylum more than 1.7 million times since 2020. This is a welcome change, but long overdue: for two years, immigrant communities and advocates have consistently worked to bring an end to this cruel and unlawful Trump-era policy, and service organizations at the border have been steadfast in efforts to support asylum seekers neglected by the U.S. government. While the Biden Administration has done the right thing in rescinding the Title 42 policy, people fleeing danger will still be denied their right to seek asylum for nearly two months. The end to Title 42 is just the first of many steps the Administration needs to take towards creating the fair, orderly, and humane asylum system that President Biden campaigned on.
“As advocates, we must remain vigilant to ensure this announcement to wind down Title 42 results in real change for people fleeing for their lives,” said Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center (JAC). “Welcome words on government paper are never enough. We expect the Administration to ensure that today’s announcement swiftly results in the ability of all people seeking safety to be able to fairly present their asylum claims—no matter the country they are from, the color of their skin, or whether they have children. It must also ensure that the people who were denied their right to seek asylum under Title 42 are returned to the U.S. to present their claims, and that Remain in Mexico, another policy that poses a barrier to a fair and humane asylum system, is shut down for good. We cannot celebrate until our clients can.”
Title 42 has caused immense human suffering to people fleeing violence around the world, but Black and LGBTQ asylum seekers have been disproportionately harmed. And recently, the Biden Administration has allowed case-by-case exemptions for people fleeing danger in Ukraine, which is commendable; however, other populations fleeing war and violence, especially from primarily Black and brown countries, are not afforded the same access to their statutory right to seek asylum.
One example of one of these disproportionately affected groups is the estimated 15,000 Haitian asylum seekers who were held by the U.S. government in an open air prison in Del Rio, Texas last September, as represented in the federal class action lawsuit Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden. Since then, the Biden Administration has expelled more than 20,000 Haitians back to a country in crisis mostly under Title 42, and by doing so, has deported as many Haitians as the previous three U.S. Presidents combined.
“To repair the broken, racist, asylum system President Biden inherited, the Administration must follow up the CDC order with restoring asylum processing including at ports of entry, halting mass expulsions back to danger, and living up to the American values of fairness, equality and opportunity he continues to espouse,” said JAC legal director Esther Sung. “We expect the Biden Administration to redress the harms his and the Trump Administration have inflicted on those seeking safety. If other nations can welcome people fleeing danger, then certainly the United States can as well.”