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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Calls on Biden Administration to Prioritize Asylum Seekers and Human Rights in Harris Trip
June 08, 2021

Human Rights First Calls on Biden Administration to Prioritize Asylum Seekers and Human Rights in Harris Trip

WASHINGTON -- As Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Mexican government leaders today, Human Rights First calls on the Biden administration to prioritize the restoration of asylum and the strengthening of human rights and refugee protection, in addition to ending rhetoric and bilateral requests that undermine these rights.

“Strengthening asylum in both Mexico and the United States should be a top priority for U.S.-Mexico discussions,” said Eleanor Acer, Refugee Protection Director at Human Rights First. “To have any credibility in its efforts to encourage other countries to host refugees, the Biden administration must immediately end its use of Trump administration policies that block and expel asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. The last thing the Biden administration should be doing is pressing Mexico to accept the expulsion of more asylum seekers under the illegal and dangerous Trump administration Title 42 policy.”

Recent reports indicated that the Biden administration was planning to ask Mexico to accept more people expelled by the United States under the Trump administration policy of expelling asylum seekers purportedly on public health grounds due to the pandemic. This policy has led to attacks on asylum seekers, as Human Rights First and other organizations have documented. In May 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees recently called on the Biden administration to end this policy.  

Just yesterday, in Guatemala, Vice President Harris said, with respect to people who might consider coming to the U.S.-Mexico border, “If you come to our border, you will be turned back,” a statement that sent a message indicating that the United States will continue to expel people seeking asylum.

“If the United States expects other countries to uphold their legal obligations to host more refugees, it must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” Acer added. “Instead of signaling that the United States will continue to turn away people seeking asylum regardless of international law, Vice President Harris and the Biden administration should affirm that the United States will end Trump policies, and uphold international human rights and refugee law and support other countries as they do so as well.”