Cruelty is no solution to challenges at the border.
Washington – The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign issued the following response to reports that the Biden administration is planning to expand its use of rushed Credible Fear Interviews of people seeking asylum while they are in Customs and Border Protection custody.
“Yet again, the U.S. Government demonstrates its complete disregard for the human rights of Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ2s+, women, and people of color by implementing processes that deny our communities their due process rights,” said Juanita Cabrera Lopez (Maya Mam), Executive Director of the International Mayan League. “For Indigenous peoples and our brothers and sisters who do not speak a dominant language such as English or Spanish, an expedited asylum screening is likely a death sentence. The continuation of inhumane policies in violation of U.S. domestic and international law obligations continue to cause irreparable harm to asylum seekers and do not deter our people from migrating. The U.S. government plays a role in the root causes of our forced migration by promoting false solutions that deepen systemic inequalities for profit off the destruction of Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples.”
“President Biden rebuked rushed asylum processing two years ago in Executive Order 14010, only to now be poised to bring back this cruel and draconian policy,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center. “The president promised hope and fairness to asylum seekers, not a Groundhog Day where we continually relive the prior administration. It is past time for this administration to show the courage and leadership to treat people fleeing persecution with dignity. Rapid deportation and CBP detention are not solutions we need to uphold our obligations to protect asylum.”
“The Biden administration keeps following Trump’s anti-asylum playbook,” said Kimiko Hirota, policy advisor of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Forcing people seeking asylum to immediately pass a preliminary screening while detained is a due process farce. We saw under the Trump administration that rushed credible fear interviews led to plummeting passage rates and rapid deportations. We urge the Biden administration to ensure that these life-or-death decisions are made in a fair and dignified manner.”
“Accuracy will suffer if we govern the asylum process with a stopwatch,” said Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice. “People fleeing danger need a process to have their claims evaluated accurately, because it’s a matter of life and death if you might get sent back to violence or torture. President Biden should emphasize getting it right, with resources and personnel to do the job, not speeding things up at the cost of accuracy.”
Alice Levine of Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice added, “We spent time on the border between Brownsville and Matamoros in January 2020 and observed the travesties of justice that happened in the tent courts under the Trump administration. Many of us worked to elect President Biden because we believed—or at least hoped—that he would do better. It is incredibly upsetting to know that the Biden administration is now reinstituting another inhumane Trump-era policy, which doesn’t give those fleeing persecution and violence a real opportunity to make their case for asylum. Many of our Jewish ancestors were turned away by the United States, and ended up being murdered in Nazi death camps. We cannot turn a blind eye to others who are fleeing danger.”
“The erosion of our country’s spirit of welcome continues. What the Trump administration began, this White House is sadly perpetuating,” said Rev. Noel Andersen, Director of Grassroots Organizing for Church World Service. “It’s unfortunately too easy for this administration to allow anti-asylum policies to follow the path of the previous administration which, because of political expediency, appears to be easier than building back. But the American people elected President Biden to do the hard work, not the easy work. To allow fearmongering and xenophobic voices to dictate our long-standing belief in protecting the vulnerable is not only a betrayal of our votes, but of the basic common decency the United States was founded upon. The Biden administration needs to reverse course and live up to its role as a global leader for the displaced.”
“It appears President Biden is once again embracing the very policies he vowed to end upon entering office,” said Kate Jastram, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Rushing asylum seekers through a cursory screening process—while keeping them detained in legal black holes without access to counsel—will undermine the integrity of our asylum system. Such policies are designed to prevent people from exercising their legal right to seek protection. Similar programs under the Trump administration resulted in the wrongful deportation of refugees to countries where they faced persecution, torture, and death. It is shameful that the White House would even consider reverting to this failed approach. We urge the administration to reverse course.”
“Survivors, especially of gender-based violence, need access to counsel, a trauma-informed screening process, and sufficient time to properly explain their claims for asylum,” said Casey Carter Swegman, Director of Public Policy at the Tahirih Justice Center. “By prioritizing speed over humanity, the administration will be jeopardizing a survivor’s chance at safety, resulting in their return to persecution and harm. This proposed process is unacceptable and fully contradicts the President’s promise to restore fair asylum in the U.S.”
“Speed is never a substitute for due process and justice,” said Ronnate Asirwatham, Director, Government Relations, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “The policy that would rush asylum seekers through a process while in detention, without access to counsel, is a policy that is designed to send people back to danger and end the right to seek asylum at our southern border. The policy was wrong under the Trump administration and only caused more suffering and confusion for people fleeing danger. It is appalling that President Biden is looking to reinstate this policy. He should keep his campaign promises and restore a just and humane immigration policy.”
“The Biden administration continues to deepen its increasingly egregious violations of basic principles of international law and human rights at the U.S-Mexico border by systematically negating, in practice, the right to seek asylum and other forms of protection sought by migrants from throughout Latin America and beyond,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, leadership team of Witness at the Border and Executive Director, National Lawyers’ Guild (San Francisco Bay Area chapter). “These practices are especially outrageous because of their discriminatory impact on those fleeing the results of U.S. policies related to free trade, the drug war, climate change, and intervention in contexts such as Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Central America. We must act urgently, without borders, to resist these policies and reverse them.”
“Expedited removal is a fatally flawed process,” said Rebecca Gendelman, Senior Research and Policy Counsel at Human Rights First. “The Biden administration’s use of expedited removal has already resulted in many asylum seekers wrongly ordered deported, including LGBTQ individuals and Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans escaping political persecution. Conducting fast-track credible fear interviews in CBP custody within days of arrival for refugees who have fled persecution and torture, with little to no access to attorneys, will only escalate this due process nightmare. Rather than modeling immigration and border policies after the Trump playbook, the Biden administration should focus its energy and resources on meaningful asylum adjudications so that more cases are resolved accurately and fairly.”
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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign for asylum rights is composed of more than 100 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org.