With yesterday’s decision by the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia finally vacating Title 42, the Department of Justice must ensure that asylum is fully restored. Today’s step forward in no way diminishes the urgency for the Biden Administration to recognize and facilitate asylum seekers’ right to seek asylum without relying on detention, surveillance, border militarization or other tactics intended to criminalize people or deter them from exercising their human right to seek safety. Instead, the U.S. must invest in community based support to welcome asylum seekers into their new communities while respecting and protecting their dignity and human rights.
Title 42 was never about public health, it was always a racist ploy to weaponize the COVID-19 pandemic to block the human right to seek asylum – a right enshrined under both U.S. and international law. The decision vacating Title 42 should serve as a stark reminder to the Biden Administration, Congress, and future administrations that the right to seek asylum is non-negotiable.
Over 2 million people were expelled under Title 42 either back to Mexico where they were subject to violent attacks including rape, kidnapping, and assault, or sent back to the very danger and persecution they fled in their home countries. Black, Brown and Indigenous people were particularly harmed under Title 42. Over 25,000 Haitians were expelled to a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, mostly under Title 42. In September of this year, Amnesty International released the report, “‘They Did Not Treat Us Like People’: Race and Migration-Related Torture and Other Ill-Treatment of Haitians Seeking Safety in the USA” that found that U.S. authorities subjected Haitian asylum seekers expelled under Title 42 to arbitrary detention and discriminatory and humiliating ill-treatment that amounts to race-based torture.
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