After Appeals Court Stay, Human Rights First Renews Call for Biden Administration to End Trump Expulsion Policy
NEW YORK – In the wake of an appeals court order yesterday, Human Rights First reiterated its calls for the Biden administration to stop defending the Trump administration’s Title 42 expulsion policy in federal court and to end the illegal policy that endangers the safety and lives of people seeking refugee protection at the southern border.
The federal appeals court order stayed a September 2021 district court order that blocked the Biden administration from expelling families to danger under Title 42 of the United States Code. Human Rights First once again urged the Biden administration to end this harmful policy, uphold U.S. refugee law and restart asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, including at ports of entry, for all families, children, and adults seeking safety in the United States. The organization also renewed its calls, made in partnership with civil and human rights organizations and leaders, to stop the expulsion of Haitians and end the Title 42 policy. The Title 42 policy uses public health as a pretext to evade U.S. refugee laws
“The Biden-Harris administration must reverse its decision to defend and continue wielding this Trump administration policy that turns away people seeking protection before that shameful choice casts an even deeper stain on the administration’s record,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “U.S. civil rights leaders, Black-led organizations, members of Congress, immigrants rights leaders, human rights groups, UN human rights and humanitarian authorities and refugee aid agencies have all called on the Biden administration to end its embrace of Trump administration policy at the border and uphold refugee and asylum law. The Biden administration must restore compliance with the refugee laws enacted by Congress, restart asylum processing, including at ports of entry, and stop expelling families and adults to terrible violence.”
The Biden administration is using the expulsion policy to return many asylum seekers to danger in Mexico as well as directly to the countries they fled, including more than 5,000 expelled to Haiti this month without the fear screenings required under U.S. immigration law. Since President Biden took office, Human Rights First has tracked at least 6,356 public and media reports of violent attacks—including rape, kidnapping and assault—against people blocked from requesting asylum protection at the U.S.-Mexico border and/or expelled to Mexico. The U.N. Refugee Agency and other international bodies have repeatedly condemned the use of Title 42 to return refugees to danger in violation of international law and urged the United States to restore access to asylum.
In September 2021, leading epidemiologists and public health experts, including former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experts, issued a public letter again urging the Biden administration to end the expulsion policy, detailing the scientific flaws in the Title 42 order the CDC re-issued in August 2021 and that the Biden administration is using to justify continued expulsions. The experts called on the administration to withdraw the order and to adopt measures based on sound science and public health practice that comply with U.S. law and treaty obligations to asylum seekers. The next bimonthly review of the CDC order by the agency is set to occur on or before October 2, 2021.
Since the inception of the Title 42 policy in March 2020, Human Rights First has published a series of reports documenting the severe human rights violations caused by the expulsions policy under both the Trump and Biden administrations: May 2020, December 2020, April 2021 (with Al Otro Lado and Haitian Bridge Alliance), May 2021 (with RAICES and Interfaith Welcome Coalition), June 2021, July 2021 (with Hope Border Institute), and August 2021. Human Rights First’s most recent report, “Human Rights Travesty: Biden Administration Embrace of Trump Asylum Expulsion Policy Endangers Lives, Wreaks Havoc,” details how the Title 42 expulsion policy inflicts immense harm – stranding asylum seekers in grave danger where they are targets of brutal kidnappings and attacks, turning away Black and LGBTQ asylum seekers to suffer bias-motivated violence, separating families, and endangering public health.