WASHINGTON — Today, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, RAICES, Community Change, Immigration Hub, Detention Watch Network, CASA, and the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign hosted a rally and visual demonstration near the Washington Monument, featuring teddy bears locked inside several large cages, to demand the Biden administration renounce plans to institute an asylum ban and return to the practice of family detention.
The rally came after reports surfaced last week of internal debates in the Biden administration over bringing back the practice of family detention, plans the White House has yet to take off the table. Over 380 organizations sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday demanding an official policy terminating family detention amid reports the administration is considering reviving the widely condemned practice.
The Biden administration also recently proposed a policy that would unlawfully deny asylum to people at the southern border by forcing them to seek asylum and wait for an answer in Mexico or another country they passed through, unless they are granted a date and time to apply through the flawed CBP One mobile application.
Naureen Shah, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU, said:
“President Biden promised to restore asylum and end family detention. We, and the many people who gathered at the Washington Monument and virtually today, shouldn’t have to hold his feet to the fire to ensure he doesn’t revive brutal policies he directly condemned. He knows exactly how much harm these policies will cause to children and families, if implemented.”
Setareh Ghandehari, advocacy director at Detention Watch Network, said:
“Reinstating a policy of detaining families in ICE or CBP custody would be a horrifying reversal of Biden’s commitments. Like all detention, family detention centers have a well-documented history of abusive conditions. We demand the administration act on the overwhelming consensus to shut down these detention facilities for good by issuing an official policy terminating family detention to ensure that no family is detained in ICE or CBP custody ever again.”
Amy Fischer, Americas advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, said:
“Seeking asylum is a human right, and it is utterly shameful for the Biden Administration to stomp on this right with plans for an asylum ban and family detention. This Administration’s embrace of cruel and racist policies that aim to make the human right to seek asylum so difficult and painful that people choose not to exercise that right is an unacceptable turn from a President that once campaigned on restoring human rights to our immigration system. The Biden Administration must immediately turn course and uphold human rights at the border and invest in policies of welcome, over policies of exclusion.”
Gustavo Torres, executive director at CASA, said:
“Biden’s asylum ban favors one community seeking refuge over another by providing rights if a person arrives by plane instead of on foot. We all know very well that these types of restrictions are systematically designed to favor wealthy and white immigrants, and leave Black and Brown immigrants out of the asylum process! Our families deserve dignity and respect.”
Bilal Askaryar, campaign manager with the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign, said:
“Something is rotten in the Biden White House if Trump’s most cruel policies are being seriously considered again. President Biden is moving to block the most vulnerable refugees from seeking asylum in the United States because they arrived on foot instead of on a plane. And now with the news that he is considering detaining refugee families as a deterrent measure, it’s clear he has given up on his promise to restore the soul of our nation. We call on Biden to reverse course, or risk setting a precedent that can be further abused by future administrations. If President Biden goes forward with his plans to ban asylum and detain families, he should dismantle the Statue of Liberty as well.”
A recording of of the rally is available here:
Professional photographs of the rally are available here: