New Report Finds Biden Administration’s Embrace of Title 42 Expulsions Leading to Human Rights Travesty

Research from Human Rights First Shows Kidnappings and Attacks Against Asylum Seekers Continue to Mount

NEW YORK – Asylum seekers face horrific danger at the U.S. southern border as the Biden administration embraces and escalates the Trump administration’s misuse of Title 42 public health authority. In August 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new Title 42 order that the Department of Homeland Security uses to illegally deny asylum seekers protection, according to a new report from Human Rights First.

The report, “Human Rights Travesty: Biden Administration Embrace of Trump Asylum Expulsion Policy Endangers Lives, Wreaks Havoc,” details how the expulsion policy is inflicting immense harm – stranding asylum seekers in grave danger where they are targets of brutal kidnappings and attacks, turning away Black and LGBTQ asylum seekers to suffer bias-motivated violence, separating families, and endangering public health.

The report includes many examples of the brutal attacks inflicted on asylum seekers blocked from seeking safety in the U.S. due to the administration’s continued use of Title 42. The report outlines how the administration’s continued use of the expulsion policy and failure to restart asylum at ports of entry creates disorder and pushes asylum seekers to undertake life-threatening crossings into the United States.

“The Biden administration’s continuing embrace of the Title 42 expulsion policy is responsible for brutal and inexcusable violations of human rights, including now more than 6,000 reported kidnappings and other violent attacks against asylum seekers,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director for research on refugee protection at Human Rights First. “This administration is expelling asylum-seeking families and adults to the very same dangers that asylum seekers were forced to endure under the Trump administration’s illegal expulsion and Remain in Mexico.  Seven months into this administration, President Biden cannot continue to ignore the exploding human rights travesty his expulsion policy is causing.”

The report found that:

  • In the seven months since President Bident took office, Human Rights First has now identified at least 6,356 public and media reports of violent attacks—including rape, kidnapping and assault—against people blocked from requesting asylum protection at the U.S.-Mexico border and/or expelled to Mexico. That new number is more than four times the 1,500 attacks Human Rights First tracked over nearly two years due to the Trump administration’s devastating Remain in Mexico policy.
  • Mexican authorities continue to carry out and turn a blind eye to violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants. The extensive control exerted by cartels across vast swaths of territory and entrenched complicity by Mexican authorities make clear that U.S. policies that force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico or require an initial exemption or other processing in Mexico inevitably endanger asylum seekers, attorneys, and humanitarian groups and subject asylum seekers to exploitation and extortion.
  • The Biden administration continues and expands harmful expulsion flights along the U.S.-Mexico border and launched new expulsion flights to southern Mexico. These flights endanger the lives of asylum seekers and reflect a glaring lack of concern for public health measures.
  • Asylum seekers blocked in or expelled to Mexico are at high risk of onward or so-called chain refoulementi.e., illegal return, to countries where they would face persecution or torture. Mexican authorities have forced asylum seekers expelled by the Biden administration to southern Mexico across the border into Guatemala. In some cases, refouled them directly to their countries of persecution, including a Yemeni asylum seeker and a Honduran man fleeing death threats by persecutors who murdered his father.
  • The Biden administration’s embrace of the expulsion policy is leading to the emergence of dangerous, informal encampments in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Asylum seekers stranded in these encampments are subjected to terrible conditions and are at grave risk of harm, including kidnapping, rape and other violent attacks.
  • Rather than ending or winding down the illegal Title 42 policy, the Biden administration has wrongly touted its policy as a public health “imperative,” contributing to false, xenophobic, and racist rhetoric that falsely paints immigrants as disease threats.

“Policies that force asylum seekers to wait in danger in Mexico are unlawful and unfixable, cause enormous suffering and harm, and create disorder and chaos,” said Kizuka. “Like the Title 42 expulsion policy, the Remain in Mexico program—which the administration is reportedly considering re-implementing—cannot be carried out lawfully or humanely and will only further endanger people seeking safety in the United States, leading to further kidnappings, sexual assaults, torture, and other violent attacks.”

The report calls on the Biden administration to:

  • Immediately end the use of—and withdraw—the discredited CDC order issued under the Biden administration and used to continue the illegal Title 42 policy, and rescind the Health and Human Services (HHS) final rule issued by the Trump administration, and, instead, direct the CDC to use evidence-based measures to protect asylum seekers;
  • Stop expelling refugee families and adults to countries of feared persecution or places where they are at risk of life-threatening harm or refoulement.
  • Process asylum requests at the southern border, including U.S. ports of entry, while employing humane policies that uphold U.S. laws and treaties to provide access to asylum for people seeking protection.
  • Take all necessary measures to prevent the August 13, 2021, federal court decision ordering the government to enforce and implement the Remain in Mexico policy and avoid any form of re-implementation of that illegal policy.

The full report can be found here.


Published on August 24, 2021


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