On April 1, the CDC officially announced the termination of the Title 42 expulsion policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. Following the release of the CDC order, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement confirming the end of Title 42 and indicating initial plans for increasing capacity to process asylum seekers. As reported earlier this week, the policy will end by May 23.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service welcomes this overdue recognition of U.S. and international law guaranteeing the right of all people fleeing violence and persecution to seek protection. We mourn, too, that migrants seeking protection have been expelled under this authority more than 1.7 million times.
The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant groups in the U.S.:
“We are pleased that asylum seekers will have the renewed ability to seek safety within our borders. At the same time, the termination of Title 42 calls attention to the cruel injustice of the policy’s implementation over the past two years. We have strongly supported Ukrainian asylees being allowed to cross the southern border as an exception to the policy, but this also serves as strong evidence of how Title 42 is unnecessary, unfair, and disproportionately affects Black and Brown people, because simultaneously, people fleeing violence from Central and South America are forced to wait in shelters and tent cities in Mexico. All asylum seekers, whether coming from Ukraine or El Salvador, should be allowed to exercise their legal right to seek protection.
The next seven weeks will be critical as we prepare to welcome asylum seekers whose search for safety has been long-stymied. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service calls upon the Biden administration not to simply return to the status quo of southern border immigration, but to articulate and implement a bold, thoughtful plan rooted in fairness, dignity, and humanity.
To that end, we are calling for:
- A significant increase in processing capacity, including asylum officers and judges; and processing facilities that are safe, appropriately staffed, and not overcrowded;
- Inclusion of community and faith-based partners in coordinated efforts to welcome and support asylum seekers;
- The end of the use of private prisons to detain people awaiting their asylum hearing, and the implementation of community-based models that are less expensive, safer, and more humane.
This announcement has already inspired significant response from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Vulnerable people should not be used as political pawns, and LIRS encourages the Biden administration to focus on the United States’ moral duty to protect and welcome those who seek safety on our shores—and reclaim our status as the world’s humanitarian leader.”