FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 20, 2023
Contact: Sarai Herrera; firstname.lastname@example.org
On the second anniversary of the Biden administration, Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) reflects on the overall failure of the administration to welcome immigrants to the United States.
LOS ANGELES – On the campaign trail, Biden promised to end Trump’s assault on the dignity of immigrants by rescinding the prior administration’s inhumane immigration and asylum policies. Two years in, the Biden administration has failed to fulfill those promises. Even the Biden administration’s most welcoming immigration and asylum policies fail to go far enough. For example, just this month, Biden expanded sponsor options for refugees through the newly created Welcome Corps program, but declined to increase the refugee admissions cap. The Biden administration has also created new pathways for Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians in need of safety by creating a parole program that allows entry into the United States. However, the program is limited by nationality and restricts eligibility to only those who can purchase airfare and who have a sponsor in the United States.
Among the most inhumane policies perpetuated by the Biden administration is the Title 42 policy. Title 42 was implemented by the Trump administration as a purported public health measure at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Title 42 has not only continued for the past two years but, in 2023, it has been expanded to include other nationalities, such as Cubans, Haitians, and Venezuelans. Furthermore, the administration is appealing a federal court ruling that declared Title 42 illegal.
The Biden administration has made encouraging changes over the past two years, proving that humane policies are not only possible but work well. The cruel Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, which subjected thousands of people in need of asylum to unspeakable harm, finally ended. However, justice has not prevailed for all those who were subjected to MPP. We are still awaiting a policy decision from the Biden administration on relief for those who were not paroled into the country when the MPP winddown abruptly ended. We fear that for many of those enrolled in MPP who were issued in absentia and final orders of removal without adequate due process, justice may never come.
The expansion of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for various countries—including Haiti, Cameroon, Myanmar (Burma), South Sudan, and Sudan—proves we can be a welcoming country. The announcement of deferred action for migrants caught in labor disputes is a positive step that makes immigrants feel protected in the workplace while helping all workers. Signing onto the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection signaled a commitment to a coordinated regional approach to migration. Yet, the continued reliance on Title 42 to keep people in need of asylum out is a glaring contradiction and out of step with the Declaration.
The Biden administration promised to respect asylum law. Despite those goals, policies have been implemented where access to due process for families is limited. The Biden administration resumed Dedicated Dockets where families are placed into a fast-moving immigration track with not enough time to attain counsel or adequately prepare their asylum cases. The deterioration of asylum rights is being perpetuated by ramping up expedited removal and has alarmed human rights advocates by announcing an impending third country transit ban.
Detention continues to plague immigrants and tear families apart. Imprisoning and punishing immigrants solely for having been born in another country has been an affront on human rights which the U.S. has strongly participated in for many years. We were promised an end to private immigration detention centers. Instead of ending detention center profits, the industry is benefiting from an increase in immigration detention. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse are not the only reasons for which these facilities must be terminated. They break apart families and tear apart communities. Immigrants are human beings who should be respected and treated humanely.
Treating immigrants with dignity requires affording equal access to justice to immigrants when new policies are implemented. The Biden administration callously did not include immigrants in pardoning of low-level drug offenses.
When reflecting on the state of immigration in the U.S. over the past two years, we would be remiss if not heeding Congress’ failure to provide fair legislation for immigrants. Biden should use more of his power to persuade Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that would improve our society, economy, and the lives of immigrants and their families. Congress must pass sensible legislation in support of immigrants, including measures to provide justice to Deported Veterans and DACA recipients.
Republicans continue to vilify immigrants, and the Biden administration cannot continue to attempt to appease Republicans with hardline immigration policies. The Biden administration must act boldly to demonstrate immigrants are welcome. Immigration law and policies should be about people not politics!
Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) is a next-generation social justice law firm that defends our immigrant communities against injustices in the legal system. We envision a future where no immigrant will be forced to face immigration court alone. Our programs are a first step towards the long-term goal of providing universal representation to all immigrants facing deportation. ImmDef is now the largest non‐profit, pro bono provider of deportation defense in California with offices in Los Angeles, Adelanto, Riverside, Santa Ana, and San Diego.