January 4, 2023
October 12, 2022
We Comment on Termination of Title 42 Expulsions
In response to the Administration’s April 1 announcement of the CDC’s Order terminating use of Title 42 to expel asylum seekers and allowing Title 8 to once again be used starting May 23, the Migrant Center contributed to two community press releases.
April 1, 2022 – “While we commend the Biden administration for moving in the right direction, it is unacceptable to refuse to consider asylum cases over the next two months,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “Misusing the Title 42 health statute for the alleged purpose of creating a border processing system that is already in place shows a blatant disregard for our laws and treaty obligations.”
April 7, 2022 – “By expelling asylum seekers to Mexican border towns, Title 42 is depositing them into the hands of violent drug cartels, enabling the cartels’ violent abuse and ability to extort them for thousands of dollars a person,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “Instead of continuing a program that funnels millions of dollars into the hands of the cartels every month, the U.S. should be assessing people’s protection claims.”
Title 42 policy has been misused since March 2020 to illegally expel approximately 1.7 million people under the guise of preventing the spread of COVID-19, resulting in nearly 10,000 documented instances of torture, kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder. Various senators wrote to Biden to keep Title 42 in place. Sign this petition to Biden to stand strong on ending Title 42 expulsions. DHS’ statement indicates that there will also be increased use of technology, on-ground monitoring, drones, and additional personnel (600 have already been deployed to the border).
We Call for Consistent COVID Practices in Immigration Processing
January 18, 2022 – We co-issued a press release: “We are profoundly disappointed that the Biden administration continues to refuse to process asylum claims using the debunked theory that doing so would present a public health risk, regardless of whether the individuals are vaccinated, test negative for COVID-19, and/or quarantine, all while the administration simultaneously allows business travelers and tourists to enter the country,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “The United States has a legal and moral obligation to consider the cases of people seeking safety in our country.” The Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (America’s mental health think tank) has called for an end to the use of Title 42 to expel asylum seekers.
District Court Rules Title 42 Likely Unlawful and Blocks Implementation Against Families, We Call for the End of Title 42 for Everyone, and the Court of Appeals Allows Title 42 to Proceed
September 16, 2021 – A federal district court deemed the Title 42 process of expelling thousands of families away at the border, returning them to some of the most dangerous parts of Mexico, “likely unlawful,” blocking the Biden administration from implementing the process against families with minor children. The court stayed its preliminary injunction for 14 days. We responded in a Press Release:
“While we are ecstatic that the federal court has recognized the unlawfulness of using Title 42 health considerations to justify the expulsion of asylum seeking families and unaccompanied children, considering there is no medically-sound rationale for this policy, we are calling on the Biden Administration to immediately end this policy for all of those seeking safety in the United States, including adult women and men,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights.
The UNHCR has similarly urged the Biden administration to abandon Title 42, recognizing the policy’s denial of access to our asylum system as inconsistent with international law.
September 30, 2021 – The court of appeals granted, without explanation, the Biden administration’s request to stay the district court’s injunction prohibiting Title 42 from being applied to families. This means the injunction will not go into effect, as originally ordered by the district court. The case is Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas.
Standing up for Haitians
August 15, 2021 – After a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook shook Haiti on August 14, killing over 2,200 people, injuring more than 12,000 people, and destroying 53,000 homes, Executive Director Sara Ramey stated in a press release: “It is crucial for the Biden administration to extend the designation date for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) so that Haitians who arrive in the U.S. after July 29, 2021 are not forced back to a country in the midst of recovering from a devastating natural disaster, and which was already struggling with a profound political and security crisis. It is also incumbent on Congress to update the TPS system to allow for continuous automatic designation and renewal of TPS when circumstances have failed to improve. As circumstances stand, many Haitians face deportation when they arrive one day after the arbitrary designation date announced by the Executive, regardless of whether the situation has improved.”
After a July 6 deportation flight, DHS paused deportations when President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination on July 7 threw the country into chaos, and redesignated Haiti for TPS on July 30. In an example of how security is shaky, the Haitian judge investigating Moïse’s assassination stepped down after his clerk was murdered. DHS resumed deportation flights during the week of August 8 – sending approximately 130 individuals back to Haiti.
August 30, 2021 – We joined 378 organizations across the country in calling on a halt to deportations to Haiti, return of those eligible for TPS who were deported since May 21, explore other avenues for relief such as DED, expedite release from detention, and grant humanitarian parole for those at the border. We also gathered 20 organizational signatures for a letter to Congress to fix our TPS system. USCIS provided the PowerPoint presentation and Q&As from its August 20 webinar on TPS for Haiti. The registration period for eligible individuals to submit TPS applications runs through February 3, 2023. The Congressional Research Service published a new report on TPS and DED.
Reflecting on 70 Years of the Refugee Convention
July 22, 2021 – In response to President Biden saying that asylum seekers “should not come” we issued a joint press release where we wrote that “[w]hile we appreciated the Administration’s efforts to increase opportunities for refugee processing in-country and in nearby countries, we are deeply concerned that the Administration fails to understand the urgent need of people to seek safety now, who cannot wait for this process to be set up, and who, if not welcomed here under our laws and in line with our American values, face persecution, torture, and death.” Leading public health officials have said time and time again that the United States can welcome people seeking asylum with science-based measures that will mitigate the risk of Covid-19 transmission and does not need to expel them under Title 42. Read about Operation Capio.
26,771 people are detained by ICE, with the South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall having the largest number of ICE detainees in FY 2021, at 769 per day, many of them asylum seekers. UNHCR guidelines stress that “the use of detention is, in many instances, contrary to the norms and principles of international law” and specifically confirm the general principle that “asylum-seekers should not be detained.” DHS is not required under U.S. law to detain asylum seekers and has existing legal authority to release people to communities where they can safely live with family and friends to wait for their cases to be decided. Detaining asylum seekers inflicts further psychological and physical harm, exacerbates trauma, blocks access to legal counsel, and makes it extra difficult to prepare and present an asylum claim.