Last Friday, the Biden administration announced that it plans to end Title 42 on May 23, 2022. This Trump-era policy cynically deployed the COVID-19 pandemic to install a de facto ban on asylum for Black and brown people seeking refuge in the United States.
Shamefully, the policy didn’t end when President Biden took office. In the last two years, 1.7 million people have been expelled to danger and deprivation in Mexico. Nearly 10,000 people—expelled or blocked in Mexico—have been kidnapped, tortured, brutalized, sexually assaulted, or murdered.
For these same two long years, asylum seekers, border communities, immigrant rights groups, public health experts, humanitarian and civil rights organizations, and people of faith have advocated, organized, and fought for this victory.
We cannot, however, rejoice wholeheartedly, not when the government continues its plans to expel hundreds of Haitian asylum-seeking families over the next seven weeks. Title 42 has already had a disproportionate impact on Black asylum seekers, especially Haitians.
Our JFON sites at the border—in Arizona and El Paso, Texas—have worked tirelessly with their communities on both sides of the border to raise the alarm on this egregious policy and to mitigate its harm to vulnerable people. Throughout the pandemic, Arizona Justice for Our Neighbors has offered legal counsel at a migrant shelter in Mexico. Volunteers from Justice for our Neighbors El Paso have provided welcome and assistance at migrant encampments in Mexico and for Haitian asylum seekers in El Paso.
Our entire JFON network—19 sites across the United States—stands ready to support asylum seekers by continuing to advocate, educate, and provide essential immigration legal services.
We are not alone. Our government, our nation, and our communities have the capacity, the resources, and the legal and moral obligation to start processing asylum seekers at the southern border immediately. Working together, we can rebuild an asylum process that is just, equitable, and welcomes all people fleeing persecution—no matter where they come from—with dignity and compassion.
We cannot fully celebrate until all unlawful expulsions have ended and the right to asylum is restored. We know that the end of Title 42 is just the first step. We promise to be here for the next steps, too.