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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Decries Biden’s New Expulsion Policy to Southern Mexico
August 12, 2021

Human Rights First Decries Biden’s New Expulsion Policy to Southern Mexico

Policy Adds New Layer to Biden Administration Use of Title 42

WASHINGTON -- Human Rights First condemns the Biden administration’s new expulsions of asylum seekers and migrants to southern Mexico, as reports mount about their mistreatment  and denial of access to asylum and UN refugee and human rights agencies raise alarm.   

“The Biden administration must stop using Trump’s cruel and illegal playbook,” said Senior Director of Refugee Protection Eleanor Acer.  “These expulsions are simply ludicrous from a public health perspective, and only confirm that the continued use of Title 42 has nothing to do with public health. The Biden administration must immediately end this travesty and instead comply with refugee law.”

Beginning last week, the U.S. has flown hundreds of Central American and Mexican families and adults to southern Mexico, unlawfully cutting off access to the U.S. asylum system. Mexico has forced many of these migrants, including asylum seekers, into remote parts of Guatemala without an opportunity to apply for asylum in either the United States or Mexico. Mothers with babies under a year old were among those bused to Guatemala, left stranded in a remote village surrounded by farmland and jungle, and told to start walking South. 

In a rare rebuke yesterday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed alarm over the Biden administration’s new policy and pointed out that these actions violate the humanitarian principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, “increase...the risk of chain refoulement,” and heighten the risk of COVID-19 transmission. UNHCR reiterated its prior call for the U.S. to end Title 42 restrictions and restore asylum for people whose lives depend on it.

In addition, five UN agencies issued a joint statement yesterday, also expressing concern about the Title 42 policy and expulsion flights to southern Mexico. The agencies - UNHCR, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) - expressed concerns about the United States’ implementation of the Title 42 expulsion policy to deny people access to asylum and strand them in limbo, warning that the expulsion flights risk violating the right to non-refoulement.

“These expulsions are illegal, inhumane, and blatant violations of U.S. refugee law and the Refugee Convention,” said Acer. “While the president and his administration have repeatedly touted a commitment to human rights, this new scheme makes clear that they are willing to disregard the safety of people seeking refuge at our border and sacrifice the United States’ moral standing.”

Leading epidemiologists and public health experts have called on both the Trump and Biden administrations to stop using Title 42 to block and expel asylum seekers, and have repeatedly confirmed that the United States can safely process asylum seekers by using science based public health measures.