Human Rights First Leads Over 240 Organizations Calling on the Biden Administration to End Trump-Era Policies and Restart Asylum

WASHINGTON D.C. – In light of the Biden administration’s recent decision to expand the Remain in Mexico policy and deploy it in tandem with Title 42 to turn away to danger people seeking safety in the United States, Human Rights First and the Women’s Refugee Commission today led over 240 human rights, civil rights, refugee aid, immigration, and faith-based organizations in a letter calling on the Biden administration to end these harmful, illegal Trump-era policies and restart asylum.

“It is disheartening to find ourselves at the end of 2021 still without any meaningful way for families and individuals fleeing persecution to seek U.S. protection,” said Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel of Human Rights First. “The Biden administration’s continuation of Title 42 and expansion of ‘Remain in Mexico’ are endangering lives and creating a humanitarian disaster at our border. The administration must take immediate steps to end their use of these inhumane and unlawful policies, and restart asylum in compliance with U.S. and international law.”

This week, Human Rights First released a fact sheet on the December re-implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico,” under the Biden administration. Their findings reveal already mounting human rights violations against people seeking U.S. protection, including inhumane treatment in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody and individuals being returned to danger in Mexico despite expressing fear of persecution.

Ursela Ojeda, senior policy advisor of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said: “Women’s Refugee Commission was in Tijuana and San Diego when the restart of Remain in Mexico was announced, meeting with numerous stakeholders – including those waiting to seek asylum – about the potential restart of the program. At a time when shelters are already at full capacity in Mexico and many families struggle to meet their basic needs, our visit confirmed that restarting and expanding Remain in Mexico will only exacerbate the harms individuals seeking protection already face. We join more than 200 organizations to urge the Biden administration to immediately end dangerous and xenophobic anti-asylum policies such as Remain in Mexico and Title 42 once and for all. Failure to do so will not only betray the administration’s promise to restore order and humanity to the immigration system but will also unquestionably and needlessly place individuals – including women, children, and families – in harm’s way.”

In October, Human Rights First urged immediate action to take legal steps to end MPP permanently. Human Rights First has tracked over 1,500 reports of kidnappings and attacks against migrants subjected to MPP under the Trump administration. Human Rights First’s most recent report found at least 7,647 reported kidnappings and other violent attacks on people blocked or expelled to Mexico under Title 42 since President Biden took office.

Today’s letter is signed by a broad range of leading civil rights, human rights, faith-based, refugee assistance, and other organizations, in addition to many members of the Welcome With Dignity campaign. Human Rights First has repeatedly outlined recommendations for the Biden administration to restore asylum and uphold refugee law, including restoring asylum at U.S. ports of entry.


Published on December 17, 2021


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