Biden Administration Can and Must Take Action to Improve the Lives of Millions of Immigrants
It has been one year since President Biden took office. Below, Karen Tumlin, founder and director of Justice Action Center, reflects on the Biden administration’s immigration record:
“Immigrant communities are still suffering under harmful policies of the Trump administration Biden had campaigned on ending. While Biden did take welcomed executive action, such as rescinding Trump’s African and Muslim Bans, since then his administration has taken specific courtroom actions that have worsened the immigration system and further reinforced anti-Blackness in immigration policy.
“The human cost of this was on stark display last September in Del Rio, Texas, when about 15,000 Haitian asylum seekers were held by DHS in inhumane and dangerous conditions and endured racially motivated physical and verbal abuse from Border Patrol agents, as argued in the lawsuit Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden, that we filed with our partners Haitian Bridge Alliance and Innovation Law Lab last month. Despite public outcry, the Biden administration continues to expel Haitian asylum seekers back to the very danger they fled—expelling more than 15,000 Haitians under Title 42 since clearing the Del Rio encampment, and 18,500 Haitians total since the beginning of his term. Furthermore, unaccompanied children continue to cross the border alone, in a desperate attempt to reach to safety. However, children who have had previous contact with the Remain in Mexico program are not being afforded their statutory and congressionally crafted rights, as outlined in the lawsuit, ImmDef v. DHS. JAC and our partners Immigrant Defenders, RAICES, The Door, ProBAR, and pro-bono counsel Simpson Thatcher have long demanded that United States respect these children’s congressionally-protected rights. This is, sadly, a fight we had hoped we would not have to continue after President Trump left office.
“Compounding the harms of the unlawful Title 42 policy, the Biden administration also failed to take swift legal action to end the Remain in Mexico program, and expanded it to apply to migrants from the entire Western Hemisphere—including Black-majority non-Spanish speaking countries like Haiti and Jamaica. Forcing these migrants to wait for their immigration hearings in Mexico, where they are subjected to rampant anti-Black racism and violence, is unconscionable.
“Despite repealing the Trump immigration ban, including for diversity visa winners, the Biden administration has actively impeded modest courtroom wins against this Trump ban, such as in Gomez v. Trump, which JAC litigated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Innovation Law Lab, and pro-bono counsel Mayer Brown. In a baffling move, the administration announced its plans to challenge a federal judge’s order to issue 9,095 diversity visas recaptured from Trump’s immigration ban—40% of which historically are from African nations. It is unclear why the Biden administration is taking legal action to effectively uphold Trump’s immigration policies, especially ones like this which are relatively easy lifts.
“Given all this, immigrant communities are left unclear on what President Biden’s stance on immigration even is.
“Throughout his first term, the immigrant rights movement has consistently made clear its demands for the fair, humane, and orderly system President Biden promised, but has yet to deliver. The Biden administration has the tools and the authority to tangibly improve the lives of millions of immigrants. It should not be afraid to use them.”
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Justice Action Center (JAC) is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting for greater justice for immigrant communities by combining litigation and storytelling. JAC is committed to bringing additional litigation resources to address unmet needs, empower clients, and change the corrosive narrative around immigrants in the U.S. Learn more at justiceactioncenter.org.