New York, NY, May 20, 2022 — Today’s court injunction to prevent the end of Title 42 maintains a policy that denies the legal rights of asylum-seekers and returns them to danger.
Title 42 denies asylum seekers their human rights to seek protection in the U.S. under the guise of public health. For over two years, its implementation has resulted in more than 1.9 million expulsions of asylum seekers who have been forced to flee conflict from northern Central America, Mexico, and other countries, despite having no scientific basis as a public health measure. This is particularly true as much of the U.S. lifts pandemic restrictions and allows nonessential border travel for tourism.
Title 42 particularly and disproportionately affects Black and brown asylum seekers. Over time, Title 42 has been expanded to expel asylum seekers from more countries, including Haiti and Venezuela, despite pressing humanitarian needs in those countries.
The IRC responds to this ongoing violation of international and domestic law:
Olga Byrne, Director, Asylum and Immigration Legal Services, said:
“We are extremely disappointed and concerned that Title 42 will remain in effect at the border following today’s court injunction. The court order does not account for the real human impact of people returned to danger, nor the cumulative costs of maintaining a system that violates rights, separates families, fuels exploitation, and denies asylum seekers their dignity and humanity.
“As conflict has escalated all over the world in recent months, we have seen the U.S. take urgent and necessary actions to welcome displaced people from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other countries—measures that we have applauded. However, it is essential that all people fleeing violence and persecution are offered their legal right to pursue safety, including people from Latin America, the Caribbean, and beyond. Seeking asylum is a human right, and it is a moral imperative to give refuge to those fleeing for their lives no matter their nationality, race, religion, color or creed.
“The U.S. can and should build a safe, orderly, and humane process to welcome asylum seekers. Last month, we saw that the U.S. government has the capacity to receive asylum seekers at the border in a safe, orderly, and dignified manner when it processed up to 1,000 Ukrainians at the San Diego port of entry each day. This is a clear example of how the U.S. can provide access to protection for people fleeing harm. We have seen time and time again that border communities have stepped up to welcome those seeking protection, bringing together government agencies, faith partners, and humanitarian organizations. The IRC calls on the Biden Administration and Congress to continue working to end Title 42 and protect the rights of people in danger to seek safety in the United States.”
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 2021, the IRC served nearly 35,000 people through its U.S. Asylum and Protection programming, both with services along the U.S. Mexico border and in cities 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 the Venezuela crisis in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and through local partners in Venezuela; supporting people at risk in northern Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) and along the main migration corridors in Mexico, from the southern to the northern borders. Additionally, after the earthquake that hit Haiti in August 2021, IRC provided funding to support the work of local organizations. Haiti, Honduras and Venezuela were three Latin American countries identified in the IRC’s 2022 Emergency Watchlist as those 20 worldwide with the most pressing humanitarian needs.
The IRC’s current programming includes supporting women’s protection and empowerment, including prevention and protection of women, girls and members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been survivors of gender-based violence; economic recovery and development; primary, sexual and reproductive health; mental health and psychosocial support; cultural orientation; and access to critical information through InfoPa’lante in Colombia, CuéntaNos in northern Central America and InfoDigna in Mexico, all of them part of the Global Signpost project.