As Title 42 Ends, HIAS Condemns New Restrictions on Right to Asylum
May 11, 2023
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Statement of HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield:
The end of Title 42 is something that HIAS and our fellow humanitarian organizations have been fighting for since March of 2020, when the previous administration first invoked this public health measure, which predates the 1951 Refugee Convention. Under Title 42, a pretext to turn away asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump and Biden administrations have turned back more than two million people without the opportunity to claim asylum, in violation of the Refugee Convention and U.S. law.
While the lifting of this inhumane policy should be cause for celebration, the Biden administration is replacing it with new unacceptable restrictions at the border — including a de facto asylum ban, and increased reliance on expedited removal.
The highly restrictive ban will deny access to protection to most people who have not already applied for, and been denied, asylum in any other country they passed through on their journey to the United States, or to those who have not made appointments via the CBP One app to enter via an official port of entry. In addition, expedited removal is a fundamentally flawed measure that limits asylum seekers’ access to basic due process — especially for people in CBP detention undergoing “credible fear” interviews. These interviews have potential life-or-death consequences, as they determine whether the non-citizen will be instantly expelled from the United States, or will be allowed to see an immigration judge to apply for asylum.
The administration’s plans do include some elements that HIAS has long advocated for. We are encouraged by the government’s pledge to increase case management services for asylum seekers, and expand pathways to resettlement from countries around the Western Hemisphere. At the same time, we reiterate that officials must not treat resettlement as a pretext to restrict access to asylum.
As a refugee organization founded more than a century ago by Jewish Americans driven by the biblical imperative to help the stranger, HIAS remains deeply committed to the human right to seek asylum. We are profoundly dismayed to see access to that protection so severely curtailed. As Title 42 is replaced by other anti-asylum measures, we once again call on the federal government and Congress to lead the world by the power of our positive example — by working together toward real, comprehensive immigration reform that will create safe, orderly and humane processes that respect the fundamental rights of asylum seekers, while also meeting the need for security at the border.