January 24, 2022 6:44 AM

One Year into Biden Administration, 100 Refugee and Asylee Leaders Deliver Letter to Biden Urging an End to ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42

For Immediate Release: 

One year after President Biden’s inauguration, 100 former refugees and asylees delivered a letter urging the Biden administration to discontinue the Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 policies.

In the letter delivered to President Biden today, refugees and asylees note that “when our protection systems prioritize humanity, we can see how they not only transform lives but transform the fabric of this nation in positive ways.” This nation's long history of welcome has been a lifeline to many refugees and asylees who now call America home and strengthen our nation in countless ways.

On December 2, 2021, the Biden administration announced the reinstatement of ‘Remain in Mexico,’ also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). ‘Remain in Mexico’ was launched by the Trump administration in 2019 and forces people seeking asylum in our nation to await their U.S. court dates in Mexico, where they endure dangerous conditions, including the threat of violence, kidnapping and homelessness.

President Biden ran a campaign on the promise to restore welcoming policies and rebuild the humane protection systems that were dismantled during the Trump era. However, a year into his presidency, his administration has continued to uphold violent policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42.

Since Biden’s inauguration, Human Rights First has documented more than 7,647 incidents of kidnappings, sexual assault and other forms of violence against people in Mexico because of ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Since taking office, the Biden administration has expelled more than 8,000 Haitians under Title 42, despite that country’s severe political and environmental crises. Policies such as ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 continue to uphold racist and discriminatory practices that harm people seeking safety.

As people who have survived forceful displacement from our countries of origin and know firsthand the importance of a humane protection system and policies that provide safety and welcome for those fleeing violence and persecution, refugee and asylee leaders call on President Biden and this administration to prioritize humanity.

Policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 can never be made safe, and there is no honorable path that involves turning our backs on those seeking safety and asylum. This nation and the Biden administration have a legal and moral obligation to allow those seeking refuge the right to claim asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief. 

“Eleven years ago, this nation welcomed my family and me at a time when we were seeking safety. That action of welcome, where humanity was prioritized, has transformed our lives,” said Dagemawit Kebede, Refugee Congress Communications and Advocacy Associate and a derivative asylee from Ethiopia. “We have to prioritize humanity. There is no moral, legal or ‘safe’ way to carry out fundamentally inhumane policies like MPP and Title 42. It's time to put an end to these policies and work towards welcoming with dignity, where our stories, experiences, identities and humanity are placed first.” 

“As a gay Southeast Asian asylee, I know what it feels like to fear persecution in my home country and to be forced to seek refuge and safety in America,” said Hans How, Refugee Congress Delegate for Northern Califronia and an asylee from Malaysia. “No one chooses to be displaced from their homeland. Refugees and asylum-seekers deserve a chance to rebuild their lives here and contribute to making a more diverse, equitable and just America.”

Policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 can never be made safe, and there is no honorable path that involves turning our backs on those seeking safety and asylum. This nation and the Biden administration have a legal and moral obligation to allow those seeking refuge the right to claim asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief. 

“Many do not know how refugees and asylees had to leave their homeland – without having a peaceful moment or chance to even put their shoes on before they fled for their lives,” said Khamisa Abdalla, Refugee Congress Delegate for Nebraska and former refugee from Sudan. “I hope that MPP and Title 42 will end, and they will put their shoes on to stand up tall again.” 

"As a former refugee, I cannot help but feel upset seeing the injustices that are happening at the border and in immigration courts,” said Basma Alawee, Campaign Manager for We Are All America, a Refugee Congress Honorary Delegate and a former refugee from Iraq. “People who are fleeing persecution and arrive in the United States have a legal right to seek asylum. Despite this, the Biden administration has continued policies from the last administration, like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42, that undermine the human right and domestic right to seek humanitarian protection. President Biden, I ask you to fulfill your promise to restore and expand our asylum system, not just because it was your campaign promise but because families, children and other human beings should not be penalized for seeking safety and refuge."

“Everyone deserves the right to seek asylum and humanitarian protection. The current policies are inhumane and must end now,” said Nejra Sumic, National Field Manager for We Are All America, a Refugee Congress Delegate and a former refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Join us in urging the Biden administration to uphold his promises to continue to embrace this nation's long tradition of welcoming refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution, and put a permanent end to the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program and Title 42. Uplift the letter on social media and with your networks using this toolkit.