FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2023
Today finally marks the end of the Title 42 order, but we lament that this will not bring the relief that migrants have desperately awaited for three years. Together, the Franciscan Network for Migrants and the Quixote Center condemn the Biden administration’s proposed rule to bar asylum, as well as regional efforts to limit the human right to free and safe movement.
The new rule will bar migrants from being able to seek asylum unless they meet one of several extremely narrow criteria, such as having applied for asylum in a third country and been denied, or having successfully secured one of very limited asylum appointment slots through the convoluted CBP one smartphone app. As human rights defenders, this rule is confusing and difficult to navigate; for migrants, we fear it will make accessing asylum near-impossible.
This asylum ban violates legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress as well as numerous international treaties. While we welcome new legal pathways, these will never replace the legal obligation to provide safe and dignified asylum, which is the only option that many vulnerable people have to seek safety. The U.S. is not above international law, and this sets a dangerous precedent for human rights across the region.
Members of the Franciscan Network for Migrants accompany migrants throughout Latin America, providing shelter and humanitarian aid. We have witnessed firsthand the dangers that migrants face when their access to asylum is blocked. Panama, Honduras, and other countries along the migratory route do not have a functioning process to apply for asylum. Nor are other countries in the region such as Mexico safe destinations for migrants to seek refugee due to the dangers that they encounter, which include murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, and torture.
Our governments continue to enact xenophobic and inhumane measures; however, we reaffirm our commitment to continue welcoming and accompanying migrants on their journey to safety. We denounce interregional initiatives that aim to deter people from being able to seek asylum on their journey throughout Latin America, especially as in Panama and Colombia. Additionally, Mexico’s borders are increasingly militarized, which has led to an increase in arrests, deportations, human rights violations and created new obstacles to free and safe transit.
In order to ensure safe and orderly asylum, we recommend that the Biden administration:
- End the offshoring and externalization of asylum and enforcement to other countries, such as Mexico’s commitment to receive removals of non-Mexican asylum seekers, or efforts to block migration across the Darién Gap. These regional plans only place migrants in danger and force them onto more dangerous routes.
- Stop funneling billions of dollars into deportation flights, immigration detention, and increasingly militarized borders across the region, and instead invest in community-based solutions to safely resettle migrants and strengthen our economies.
- Provide an alternate method to the CBP One app for migrants to seek asylum at ports of entry, and not only in just a few extreme exceptions.
- Look beyond Northern Triangle Countries and economic strategies to address the current roots of migration, which include climate change, gender violence, indigenous displacement, and democratic backsliding.
- Coordinate with immigration nonprofits and advocates throughout Latin America who already serve migrants daily to increase the admission of refugees from the region.
The Quixote Center empowers vulnerable families and communities to become the artisans of their own destiny through transforming oppressive systems and structures. Inspired by liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching, we do this through sustainable development, advocacy, economic justice, environmental, and educational initiatives. Our current focus is on Nicaragua and Haiti, where we support programs to empower impoverished families and communities, and support for migrants in Mexico and Central America, where we work to mitigate the damage of US immigration policies. Together with our partners, we dream of a world more justly loving.
The Franciscan Network for Migrants is a network of Franciscan-hearted people, lay and religious, who offer support, humanitarian assistance and welcome to people displaced from their countries of origin. The mission of the Network is to promote and defend the dignity of each person in order to ensure best practices of integration of and encounter with people in a state of migration.