New York, NY, January 14, 2022 — A new IRC report, released one year after President Biden’s inauguration, “Protection Denied: Humanitarian Consequences at the U.S. Southern Border One Year Into the Biden Administration,” calls for immediate policy change at the US-Mexico border.
One year into the Biden administration, some of the most severe Trump-era policies that have decimated access to asylum—commonly known as “Title 42” and “Remain in Mexico”— remain in force. These measures effectively “externalize” asylum beyond U.S. borders, making U.S. territory unreachable to foreign nationals – even if they are exercising their human right to seek asylum – and require Mexico and other countries to carry increasingly challenging burdens to meet humanitarian needs. Rather than welcoming with dignity, asylum seekers’ rights continue to be violated by the U.S. These draconian and inhumane U.S. border policies have pushed asylum seekers into border territories where they are specifically targeted by organized crime and other corrupt actors.
Olga Byrne, Director of Asylum and Immigration Legal Services at the International Rescue Committee, said:
“The Biden Administration has made important progress on protecting the right to seek asylum—including by taking actions that reverse harmful legal interpretations obstructing protection for survivors of domestic violence and gang violence. However, by failing to end policies of border externalization that push asylum-seekers back into Mexico, the Biden Administration has denied people fleeing violence and persecution their legal right to seek safety in the U.S. and returned them to dangerous situations in Northern Mexico.
“These policies have severe humanitarian consequences for asylum-seekers, who find themselves at risk of murder, rape, extortion, and other violence. This is particularly true for Black migrants and women, who experience acute discrimination and violence during their journey and along the border. The harsh reality is that these conditions often resemble the threats and dangers that asylum-seekers fled in their home countries.
“Civil society has the expertise and the infrastructure to help the administration achieve its goals of safe, regular, and humane migration processes that respect the right to seek asylum. We call on the Biden Administration to take the necessary action to end border externalization policies that put asylum-seekers at risk, and to invest in capacity to welcome asylum-seekers in the U.S.”
The IRC’s new report urges the Biden Administration to:
- End Title 42. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should immediately revoke the Title 42 expulsions order and the related Interim Final Rule. DHS should follow recommendations by public health experts on the safe processing of asylum seekers at the border in coordination with civil society in northern Mexico and southern US border communities. Seeking asylum is a right, even during a pandemic.
- End MPP once and for all. The Biden administration must aggressively pursue steps to terminate MPP as quickly as possible.
- Immediately expand capacity to process asylum seekers at ports of entry along the Southern border.
- Fund border shelters to bring humanitarian reception to scale. Border shelters have provided dignified welcome to asylum seekers for decades, and have significantly enhanced coordination and best practices in recent years despite challenges posed by COVID. Reception at border shelters can and should serve as a gateway to a fair and humane asylum process, beginning with immediate humanitarian services and a legal orientation that ensures asylum seekers understand the next steps in their process and how to connect with legal and social service providers in their destination locations. Civil society has the expertise and the infrastructure to help the administration achieve its goals of safe, regular, and humane migration processes that respect the right to seek asylum. Additionally, funding and support should also be extended to provide protection services for vulnerable populations throughout the migration pathway.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has provided responsive humanitarian services to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border since 2019 as part of our broader response along the region. The IRC has also strongly advocated for the restoration of access to the asylum system at the U.S. southern border including through rescission of Title 42 and termination of Remain in Mexico.