WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden administration is being criticized by an independent advocacy organization for utilizing the COVID-19 directive known as Title 42, which the group claims is exposing asylum seekers to unnecessary danger and family separation.
Human Rights First issued a scathing report last month called “Failure to Protect: Biden Administration Continues Illegal Trump Policy to Block and Expel Asylum Seekers to Danger.”
By continuing to use Trump's Title 42 order to expel #refugees to danger, President Biden is contributing to a new wave of family separation.— Human Rights First (@humanrights1st) May 5, 2021
It doesn't have to be this way.
It's time to rescind Title 42 & #WelcomeWithDignity refugees seeking safety in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/u4N8T3BP6I
In the report, Human Rights First criticized the Trump administration’s issuing of an order under Title 42 of the U.S. Code that was used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the purpose of combating COVID-19.
However, it also criticized the Biden administration for refusing to end Title 42 and its expulsion policy, which it claimed has sparked a chorus of condemnation from public health experts, legal scholars, former government officials and members of Congress.
Central America's inequality and violence, in which the US has long played a role, is driving families to leave their homes. Now the Biden administration is expelling asylum-seekers to Mexico, far from where they are caught crossing the border https://t.co/fHHYmUbETn— Scott Patrick (@ScottPatrickPhD) March 22, 2021
The report noted:
“Despite his frequent pledges to reverse President Trump’s cruelty at the border, President Biden is continuing a policy that is wreaking havoc: it endangers children, drives family separations, and illegally returns asylum seekers to danger, including Black and LGBTQ refugees forced to endure bias-motivated violence in Mexico.
“The policy also creates disorder and pushes asylum seekers to cross into the United States between ports of entry. Rather than protecting public health, the expulsion policy threatens the health and safety of asylum seekers and migrants.
“Under this policy, DHS is preventing asylum seekers from approaching U.S. ports of entry to seek protection and expelling those who cross the border elsewhere, sending them either to the countries they fled or to dangerous border regions in Mexico.”
"Drug cartels preyed on migrants in the camps along the border, and @humanrights1st documented more than fifteen hundred cases of migrants being murdered, raped, kidnapped, tortured, assaulted, or extorted."— Human Rights First (@humanrights1st) May 6, 2021
This fantastic piece lays out the complicated reality at the border 👇 https://t.co/xKOCUI0LJ7
The report also said “the Biden administration is misusing Title 42 and turning away people seeking protection to those same life-threatening dangers” and tracked at least 492 attacks and kidnappings suffered by asylum seekers turned away or stranded in Mexico since President Biden took office in January.
In the report, Human Rights First also said that by sending asylum seekers back to danger without asylum assessments, the Biden administration is failing to protect refugees and is blatantly violating U.S. refugee laws and treaties.
I spent the past week on the ground in Tijuana with the @HaitianBridge team learning about how Title 42 disproportionately harms Haitian and other Black asylum seekers. @humanrights1st 1/3 pic.twitter.com/GuujgtYXSF— Julia Neusner (@JuliaNeusner) March 27, 2021
Where are the asylum seekers coming from?
According to the report, families and adults are coming from several countries:
“The Biden administration has blocked and expelled asylum-seeking families and adults from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Russia, Somalia, Venezuela, and Yemen.
“African, Caribbean, and other Black asylum seekers and migrants have been left particularly vulnerable by this policy, suffering anti-Black violence and discrimination while stranded at the border for months or even years.
“Since February 2021, the U.S. government has sent 27 airplanes with over 1,400 Haitian adults and children, including asylum seekers, directly back to Haiti despite escalating political instability and violence.”
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The report also said the Biden administration’s use of the expulsion policy to buy time to set up a new process is not justified:
“The Biden administration has suggested it is using this expulsion policy to buy time to put in place a comprehensive process and achieve other legislative objectives. These justifications are neither a proper use of public health authority nor valid reasons for violating asylum laws that save lives.”
Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires https://t.co/AFyvMy93Fn— Laura Lynch (@LLynch1) May 8, 2021
At a Feb. 10 press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked what steps Biden was planning to take to confront the growing number of people arriving on the border, and she replied:
“He’s certainly following it closely, but obviously defers to the leadership and the guidance of his Secretary of Homeland Security, Ali Mayorkas, who is now confirmed — been in office in his role for just over a week now.
“Obviously, is — comes to that job with a great deal of experience working on these issues, including during challenging times.
“But since you gave me the opportunity, I mean, one of the things we are certainly doing is communicating that, due to the pandemic and the fact that we have not had the time, as an administration, to put in place a humane, comprehensive process for processing individuals who are coming to the border, now is not the time to come, and the vast majority of people will be turned away.
“Asylum processes at the border will not occur immediately; it will take time to implement.
“And as DHS and CBP have said, you know, when long-term — you know, this is — you know, there have been incredibly narrow and limited circumstances where individuals have been — have come into the country awaiting for their hearing, but the vast majority have been — have been turned away.
“And so this is not the time to come.
“And, you know, this is obviously an emotional issue for many of us who’ve worked on this in the past, for the President himself, but we need time to put in place, and partners to put in place a comprehensive process and system that will allow for processing at the border of asylum seekers, but also, you know, providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are in the United States.”
Immigration detention is not only contrary to American values, it's unnecessary. https://t.co/L4XK5VuC3v— American Immigration Council (@immcouncil) May 7, 2021
Human Rights First’s report also provided several key findings:
“The Biden administration is blocking asylum-seeking families and individuals at ports of entry and expelling those who cross the border seeking protection to danger in Mexico.
“Many Black asylum seekers and migrants are being harmed by the expulsion policy.
“Asylum seekers expelled to their countries of feared persecution remain in danger and unable to seek U.S. asylum protection, as the Biden administration continues to use Title 42 to block asylum requests, including at ports of entry.
“The Biden administration continues to use a widely discredited Trump-administration policy to block and expel asylum seekers, illegally denying them refugee protections.
“The expulsion policy is separating families and continues to endanger unaccompanied children.
This is so upsetting.— Sailor Mew, LL.M., J.D., M.A. (@lexetfelium) April 12, 2021
“Blocking access to asylum protections at U.S. ports of entry and expelling asylum seekers to Mexico creates confusion and exposes them to further danger.
“Border Patrol agents and CBP officers continue to abuse migrants in their custody, deny them emergency medical care, confiscate their belongings, and carry out expulsions at night and to dangerous border towns.
“Many asylum seekers expelled to Mexico are stranded indefinitely in desperate circumstances and are at risk of refoulement – return to persecution or torture.”
President Biden has also yet to fulfill the following campaign promises:— Camilo Montoya-Galvez (@camiloreports) April 28, 2021
– Ending for-profit immigration detention.
– Rescinding Trump-era rules that disqualified victims of gang and domestic violence from asylum.
– Increasing the current historic low cap on refugees.
The report also complained about Mexico, saying it was complicit in U.S. policies blocking asylum:
“The Mexican government continues to facilitate U.S. violations of international protections for refugees by agreeing to receive expelled Mexican and Central American asylum seekers.
“In some locations, local Mexican immigration officials are refusing to accept families with children under seven years old.
“However, the Mexican government has reportedly offered to alter or delay implementation of a law prohibiting detention of migrant children, which has in some Mexican states led to restrictions on the expulsions of migrant families, under pressure from the Biden administration.
President Biden came into office pledging to usher in a new era of U.S. immigration policy.— Camilo Montoya-Galvez (@camiloreports) April 28, 2021
100 days in, Pres. Biden has reversed some Trump-era policies, but kept others in place. Some major campaign pledges have also not been fulfilled yet.
“Non-Mexican asylum seekers expelled under the expulsion policy generally do not receive legal status in Mexico and are subject to deportation while waiting indefinitely in Mexico to seek U.S. refugee protection.
“Mexico detains some individuals expelled by the United States and has long failed to consistently provide asylum seekers with an opportunity to seek protection or inform them of their right to seek asylum in Mexico.”
#Texas Democrat @RepCuellar, who has been critical of the @WhiteHouse’s #Immigration policies, said “the border is not under control” and that the Biden admin is playing a “shell game” by shifting unaccompanied minors “from one tent to another tent.” https://t.co/1pITfeILzg— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) May 7, 2021
In an exclusive interview with the Today show, Biden recently blamed the previous administration for the current border crisis, saying it didn’t have a plan. Biden also claimed the situation is better under his administration:
“Well, look. It’s way down now. We’ve now gotten control.”
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