Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center
This week marked important milestones and policy announcements for the U.S. asylum system which together paint the picture of an administration that continues to prioritize the deterrence of Black, Brown, and Indigenous migrants from our borders at the expense of our country's obligations to uphold human rights and justice.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced a new interim final rule that will change the way people seeking asylum in the United States present their claims for protection and how those claims are processed. While the rule does correct some of the prior administration’s damage to the asylum system, the fact is that the Biden administration's focus on expedited processing will limit asylum seekers’ access to legal counsel and due process and will undermine meaningful access to protection.
These changes were announced shortly following the second anniversary of the U.S. government’s closure of the southern border to asylum seekers through the shameful Title 42 order, which continues to brutally expel asylum seekers under the false guise of public health. Rather than ending this harmful policy entirely as international travel restrictions have eased, the Biden administration announced that the program would remain in place but for a special carve out for Ukrainian refugees.
The National Immigrant Justice Center defends the rights of people seeking refuge in the United States. We are shocked that more than a year into the Biden administration we must continue to fight tooth and nail for the most basic due process rights for our clients while so many others remain blocked from even accessing our asylum system. We applaud the decision to allow Ukrainian refugees access to the United States, but that is not nearly enough when Black, Brown, and Indigenous refugees who are also fleeing for their lives are unlawfully expelled. We are a nation of immigrants with a tradition of welcoming the stranger. Now more than ever, we need an equitable asylum system that provides protection for those forced to leave their homes.