As recent reports indicate that the current U.S. Administration will continue the practice of expelling asylum seekers in violation of international law, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) announced today that, as part of the temporary response agreed upon, it has stopped receiving new referrals. Effective this week, the IRC will withdraw from the process—intended to be temporary—of supporting requests for humanitarian exceptions to the U.S. expulsions policy.

The IRC will finalize support for individuals who have already been identified and will submit their cases for consideration by DHS. It is now up to the U.S. government to end the border externalization policies of the previous administration and allow asylum seekers to present themselves at ports of entry, as is their right under U.S. and international law.

Meghan Lopez, Regional Vice President for Latin America at the IRC, said:

“What was supposed to be a temporary measure meant to help people with serious, urgent humanitarian needs who were stuck at the U.S.-Mexico border, is now at risk of becoming a permanent practice by way of continuous extension. 

“The IRC, as part of a binational consortium, agreed to participate in the temporary process on a fixed-term basis to remove barriers and help as many people as possible access their right to seek international protection, with the expectation that the current Administration would end Title 42. We are taking a firm stand by limiting our participation within the fixed-term period originally agreed upon. Humanitarian exceptions are an inadequate measure that does not provide a permanent solution. 

“Those still waiting at the border, who are being denied their right to seek asylum, are in immediate danger, not dissimilar from the danger they have fled, especially as the security situation continues to deteriorate. While the recent White House blueprint presents many positive changes and proposals to migration policies, it does not address Title 42. Ending this policy is urgent, but it is also critical to take additional actions, including providing protection programming and support at the border and throughout the migration pathway. Addressing the root drivers of migration in northern Central America and strengthening asylum policies and systems in countries like Mexico will also be critical to respond to the humanitarian crises in Latin America. 

“While we are concluding our participation, we will support the families and individuals for whom we have already received referrals from partners. We will ensure that asylum seekers are able to access the port of entry to avoid immediate danger and pursue their right to seek safety. The IRC will also continue implementing protection programs to respond to the most urgent needs across Mexico.”  

While commending certain protection-centered measures in the recently released White House Blueprint on Immigration, the IRC continues to be concerned by a number of measures still in use by the current Administration to curb or prevent access of vulnerable people to seek safety in the United States. Even through this humanitarian exceptions process, CBP has only allowed a very limited number of people to present and be processed at the port of entry per day, which mirrors the metering practices of previous administrations. 

Title 42 violates U.S. refugee & anti-trafficking laws, and international treaty obligations by expelling children, families, and adults seeking asylum from persecution, torture, and other serious danger. Public health experts agree that there is no public health rationale for denying people their legal right to claim asylum at the U.S. border while tourists continue to travel through U.S. ports of entry across the southern border, and COVID-19 prevention and attention protocols are available. The International Rescue Committee renews its call for the United States to end the use of the Title 42 public health rule that stops asylum seekers from finding safety from harm within U.S. borders.