David Miliband, IRC President and CEO stated, “I have just completed an invaluable visit to Arizona, where I met with IRC staff and with clients who have lived through the humanitarian situation south of the U.S. - Mexico border firsthand. 

“When I last visited the IRC response at the U.S.-Mexico border three years ago, I witnessed the impacts on IRC’s clients of the ‘wall’ of border policies and practices that made it impossible to access protection guaranteed by U.S. and international law. As a global organization operating in 40 countries, the IRC knows all too well the difference between policies that are humane and effective and policies that are inhumane and ineffective. With Title 42 in place, encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border rose to levels not reached in over 20 years, all while making it impossible for many people facing persecution to access protection.

“Today, increasing numbers of people in Latin America have been forced to flee their homes.  The vast majority are hosted in states like Colombia, Peru and Mexico. I heard on my visit from clients who had come through extreme danger at the Darien Gap - one of the most perilous land migration routes in the world.  Crossings there have doubled since 2021. Asylum claims in Mexico have reached historic levels, now fielding the highest number of asylum applications in the world after the U.S. and Germany.

“The end of the cruel and ineffective Title 42 policy is a necessary step to restore the rule of law and compliance with U.S. refugee obligations. The Biden Administration has taken some important measures to build an effective asylum management system, including increased regional resettlement processing, expanding access to the CBP One app, clamping down on misinformation, guaranteeing asylum slots for refugees from four countries, and surging assistance to communities receiving migrants. However, these efforts are undermined by a serious flaw: the IRC believes it is neither right nor practical to render illegal any attempt to claim asylum that is not based on a prior appointment.

“The evidence from around the world is that cruelty is not the route to order. In fact some of the most cruel solutions produce disorder and empower people smugglers. By contrast, there are policies which are both humane in treating refugees with dignity, and orderly in the way they promote effective management of migration.

“Families and individuals fleeing for their lives are coming to the U.S. hoping for fair consideration of their request for protection. IRC’s experience is that the very large majority comply with rules and procedures, and the majority are granted refugee status when they have legal representation.  The IRC is convinced that there is a practical, safe and orderly way through the current situation, grounded in international experience.”

The IRC’s experience suggests five priorities to bring humanity, predictability and fairness to the system - which require support and funding: 

  1. Scale up humanitarian border reception: Expanding support to community - and NGO-led humanitarian border reception and coordination ensures that people seeking protection are treated with dignity, order and safety and are kept off the streets. The IRC’s Phoenix Welcome Center is a standard-setting example of, and testament to, the impact of safe and orderly reception on asylum-seekers and local communities. The reception capacity of the Welcome Center and humanitarian reception partners, along with our collaboration and coordination with local, state and federal actors on a bipartisan basis resulted in immigration officials not releasing a single person to the streets in Arizona despite record arrivals last year. Moreover, community-based reception is far less costly than hosting families in detention-like converted hotels
  2. Alternatives to detention: Case management is a humane and effective alternative to detention, for which no systematic approach exists in the U.S. It ensures asylum-seekers understand their obligations under U.S. law, access needed support, and navigate a highly complex immigration and asylum system. It is also a cheaper solution: the Family Case Management Program (FCMP) during the Obama administration cost just $38 per family per day, compared to the $162.50 for a single adult detention bed per night that ICE spent in FY22. The same case management program also ensured 99% compliance with ICE check-ins and immigration court attendance, as it better informed individuals of their obligations and how to comply with them.
  3. Timely processing as fair processing: The U.S. asylum backlog routinely leaves people waiting 5 to 7 years for a decision on their asylum case. Improving the efficiency of adjudications is integral to a safer, fairer, more humane and orderly asylum system. Initial processing at the border should funnel people with credible claims to asylum to much more timely asylum adjudications.  
  4. Scale up information to combat misinformation and enable asylum seekers to locate services: Increased information helps people on the move with timely, actionable, and hyper-local information to make informed choices in the midst of humanitarian crisis - and disempowers smugglers who prey on refugees and asylum seekers with misinformation. IRC’s Signpost digital initiatives in the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America and around the world have reached 36 million people. 
  5. Effective foreign aid, smart diplomacy, and robust economic relationships with Latin America and the Caribbean: Working throughout Latin America, the IRC recommends a regional approach to crises in the region, including donor investment in humanitarian assistance not only to meet rising needs, but to ensure that people who do return home can do so safely and sustainably through reintegration support. International financial institutions need to incorporate lessons learned from multilaterally-supported and funded compact initiatives in humanitarian and protection emergencies around the world into the responses in Latin America. International support must be paired with safe, legal and complementary pathways for refugees - including labor mobility refugee pathways from Latin America - while also upholding the right to seek asylum in accordance with international law. 



THE IRC’S ASYLUM AND PROTECTION WORK IN THE UNITED STATES: The IRC provides case management, humanitarian reception, information services, and legal assistance to asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and other vulnerable people seeking protection in the U.S. In Fiscal Year 2022, Asylum and Protection programming across RAI US continued to expand, serving over 62,000 individuals through a range of asylum & protection programs.  

In response to the end of Title 42, the IRC is scaling up humanitarian response programs on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, including expanding online information services through Signpost, scaling up support for border shelters, providing technical assistance in humanitarian reception and expanding direct assistance and case management programs across the U.S.  

THE IRC IN LATIN AMERICA: The IRC is responding across the arc of the crisis in Latin America: delivering a population-based response to support Venezuelans in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and through local partners in Venezuela, supporting people at risk in northern Central America and along the main migration corridors in Mexico. Since 2019, the IRC has responded to the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers stuck at the U.S.-Mexico border as a consequence of restrictive policies such as Title 42. Currently, the IRC’s programs in Mexico offer a timely and comprehensive response from the southern to the northern border, addressing economic recovery and development; mental health and psychosocial support; child protection; multipurpose cash assistance to meet people’s basic needs; prevention and response to gender-based violence; access to critical information through InfoDigna, a multi-channel information platform; as well as identifying needs and referring cases to local service providers. Additionally, the IRC is supporting local integration efforts by providing cultural orientation to individuals who have chosen to stay in Mexico.