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For Immediate Release

Contact

Mariya Parodi, media@aiusa.org

Press Release

Biden Expands Plan to Bring Back Asylum Seekers Forced to Wait in Dangerous Border Towns Under Trump’s Remain In Mexico Policy

WASHINGTON -

This week, the Biden administration announced that it would take steps to allow additional asylum seekers to come back to the U.S. to safety after they were subjected to the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). This decision will help thousands of immigrants who were forced to remain in Mexico while waiting for their U.S. asylum cases to be heard.

Members of the Welcome With Dignity Campaign applaud this step to unwind the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy but are advocating for the Biden administration to swiftly end other cruel policies of the former administration, including mass expulsions of asylum seekers to danger under Title 42.

“This is an important step in addressing the harms of this unlawful policy that deprived tens of thousands of people an opportunity to seek safety,'' said Denise Bell, Researcher for Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International USA. “We urge the administration to continue to restore access to asylum at the border by rescinding the public health quarantine under Title 42, which is not grounded in science, unlawful, and endangers people seeking safety, just as the Migrant Protection Protocols did, by sending them back into harm’s way.”

“This is an important step by the Biden administration to provide access to asylum for MPP victims who were unable to attend hearings in this flawed process, in many cases due to acute dangers, kidnappings or other impediments,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director of Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “The administration must also quickly move ahead to provide access to safety for MPP victims who were denied asylum under this rigged program. MPP proceedings were plagued by due process violations, barriers to legal representation and wrongful denials due to now rescinded Trump administration policies.”

“At issue is our collective humanity as a nation and whether we are going to do right by the children and families the Trump administration has wronged. Providing asylum for MPP victims denied justice at our border is a step in the right direction,” said Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together. “But, we cannot stop here. We need the Biden administration to move forward with ending Title 42 – a racist, dangerous, and cruel Trump-era policy – which has been weaponized to send people seeking safety back to danger. We urge the Biden  administration to end Title 42 for all and restore asylum fully to create an immigration system that welcomes people with dignity and respect.”

“Allowing those subject to the unlawful and cruel MPP program to have a second chance at seeking asylum, especially if they never got their first chance because they were in a kidnapper's den, is the right thing to do,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council. “Fixing the previous administration’s cruelty at the border means more than just rolling back anti-asylum policies, it also requires giving people a second chance.”

“We welcome the decision by the Biden-Harris administration to do the right thing and provide access for the men, women and children who were previously denied access by the cruel and racist Trump’s MPP policy,” said Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. “We also urge the Administration to immediately end the use of Title 42, a draconian rule and a death trap for asylum seekers fleeing extreme danger. Furthermore we urge the Administration to provide protection for extremely vulnerable black asylum seekers and others not in MPP who have been waiting at the U.S-Mexico border and welcome all people with dignity”

“On asylum, it is so important that we get it right because asylum can be a matter of life and death,” said Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice. “While not everyone will or should be granted asylum, every asylum seeker should have a full and fair opportunity to make their case. MPP – or Remain in Mexico – was designed to ensure that people could not have access to a fair hearing and was the essential component of Stephen Miller’s plan to gut asylum. As he infamously stated in 2019, ‘My mantra has persistently been presenting aliens with multiple unsolvable dilemmas to impact their calculus for choosing to make the arduous journey to begin with.’ Yet clearly, no matter how cruel or draconian the strategy, deterrence did not work.”

“So many asylum seekers in the Remain in Mexico program who have been waiting in danger for a true chance to seek protection will finally get to do so,” said Yael Schacher, Senior U.S. Advocate at Refugees International. “We urge the administration to ensure that those who register are allowed to enter the United States and have support pursuing their cases. The administration must also create pathways to protection for others denied due process in the MPP program and must stop expelling asylum seekers via Title 42 to the very same dangers those in MPP faced. This is a great step towards restoring welcome at the border and Refugees International calls on the administration to continue building a better asylum system."

“This move marks important progress towards rebuilding our asylum system and redressing the profound harm caused by MPP. This Trump-era program was a human rights and due process disaster, and it flew in the face of our legal and moral obligations to refugees,” said Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “In the legal challenges CGRS brought against MPP, multiple federal courts ruled the policy unlawful. All who suffered under this cruel and illegal policy should have a fair chance to seek refuge in the United States.”

“For over two years our clients have been trapped in limbo holding on to hope that this day would come. These clients have faced incredible obstacles, including surviving a pandemic and on-going threats to their safety while in Mexico. Finally welcoming asylum seekers who were in the Remain in Mexico program into the U.S. while they continue their cases will save lives,” said Joyce Noche, Director of Legal Services at Immigrant Defenders Law Center. “We call for due process to be restored for individuals and families whose cases were fast tracked through a system designed for them to fail, whose cases were kidnapped or sick, and unaccompanied kids previously in MPP who still face deportation because of this cruel program. Additionally, we urge the Biden administration to continue the momentum of restoring the asylum system by ending the implementation of Title 42 in order to truly welcome asylum seekers and refugees with dignity.”

"We are relieved and very thankful that the Biden Administration continues to take important steps towards processing more people and families into the U.S. who have been inhumanely trapped in MPP. The U.S. must never forget the horrors done in its name through the Trump Administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, and today is a stride to heal the injustices it caused to more than 70,000 people and their families,” said Todd Schulte, President and Executive Director of FWD.us. “The notice to Congress finally gives an estimated 34,000 more people seeking asylum and children fleeing violence and persecution the opportunity to access legal humanitarian relief from within the U.S., leaving behind the horrors of conflict, natural disasters and famine. Efforts to protect the populations most harmed by the Trump Administration’s immigration policies should not be confined to those impacted by MPP. If the Biden Administration wants to remain true to their promise of building a safe, orderly, and humane asylum system for all who are impacted, it must urgently end Title 42. The impacts of Title 42 amount to the same harm and lack of access to justice as MPP, and both have acutely impacted Black people seeking asylum from Haiti, Brazil, and elsewhere."

“This is an important step toward welcoming more people and families into the United States who have been inhumanely and immorally trapped by MPP," said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Church World Service. “We commend the Biden administration for moving into the next phase in winding down the unlawful Remain in Mexico policy and giving approximately 34,000 more asylum seekers a chance to reach safety. As we confront the worst displacement crisis on record with more than 82 million people forced from their homes worldwide, the United States has a moral and legal obligation to redress the harm caused by anti-asylum policies. We call on the administration to significantly expand eligibility for everyone impacted by MPP—including those who crossed into the United States in-between ports of entry— to provide a remedy for all asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and immigrants impacted by MPP, and to urgently terminate Title 42 expulsions to prevent the fatal consequences of returning people to harm. We are ready to work with the administration and our member communities to serve asylum seekers and immigrants in need of humanitarian assistance."

“MPP was a shameful, inhumane, and unlawful policy that created a process so stacked against asylum seekers that the only fair way for the Biden administration to unwind it is to give everyone subjected to it a fair opportunity to pursue their claims safely from within the United States,” said Ursela Ojeda, policy advisor for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We welcome today’s announcement to wind down MPP. We call on the Biden administration to continue expanding access to protection and ensure that every last person subjected to MPP is afforded an opportunity to enter the United States and safely apply for asylum. We further call on the administration to stop blocking and expelling people seeking protection at the border under the false pretense of protecting public health and immediately and fully restore access to asylum.”

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden administration is expanding eligibility for more than 30,000 families and individuals who were previously forced to wait in dangerous Mexican cities under the unconscionable Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy,” said Santiago Mueckay, Manager Federal Government Relations, Save the Children Action Network. “This is an important step in the fight for justice. The administration must now focus on rescinding inhumane and unnecessary pandemic-related border restrictions, ensuring everyone has the ability to seek asylum in the US. We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration and relevant international aid agencies to ensure this is a smooth process during which the rights of children and families are protected.”

“This is big news for the immigrants forced to live a life of fear and uncertainty as they navigate complicated U.S. asylum policies. The previous U.S. administration tried to block asylum cases with various hardline policies, and it didn’t work - it also made the lives of these vulnerable immigrants seeking safety at our border worse,” said Basma Alawee, We Are All America campaign manager. “This new decision is a sign that the Biden administration is more willing to base U.S. asylum policies in compassion and reality, and this change will make a difference in the lives of the many immigrants unfairly forced from attending the hearings that could decide their fate in this country. This is a welcome move, and we hope it is the first in many changes to U.S. immigration policies to come."

“Righting the terribly wrong asylum and immigration policies the Trump administration imposed is a high priority for America’s moms,” said Donna Norton, Executive Vice President of MomsRising. “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s decision to give migrants who were detained and endangered in Mexico a fair day in court. But more is needed. We also need to end Title 42 and reconsider all asylum cases that were unfairly denied. America’s moms want every asylum-seeker and every immigrant to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect.”

“Despite its Orwellian name, this policy's purpose was never to protect migrants. It was to deport everyone, regardless of whether they qualified for protection under asylum law," said Stephen Manning, Executive Director of Innovation Law Lab. "Remain in Mexico was very effective at undermining due process, depriving asylum seekers of access to basic human needs, and confining people to extreme danger zones, where many were kidnapped, tortured, and even murdered. Phase II processing is a step in the right direction, but the government has still failed to provide justice for the over 71,000 individuals subjected to the policy.”

"This is a positive step towards bringing justice to the tens of thousands who were wrongly denied access to asylum. Asylum seekers who weren't able to be present for their hearings because they were forced to wait in danger in Mexico-- or worse, returned to the same dangers they were fleeing--deserve another chance to make their claim,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Co-director of the Latin America Working Group. “We urge the Biden administration to work closely with civil society organizations on both sides of the border to make sure people in Mexico and in their home countries wrongly denied their rights have the information necessary to pursue their claims. The White House should also end the harmful Title 42 policy to ensure access to asylum is restored at our border and that we truly welcome those fleeing for their lives.”

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