A Unitarian Universalist Inauguration Prayer for 2021

Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

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Petition: President-Elect Biden, Keep Your Promise to Families Seeking Asylum

Call on the new administration to restore asylum protections in full

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have committed to end Trump’s reign of terror against asylum-seekers and restore our nation’s promise as a haven for refugees. This pledge represents a vital opportunity to bring justice to our asylum system and uphold the rights of people globally who have been forced to leave their homes.

As people of faith and conscience, we are obliged to hold elected officials to their word. The new administration must follow through on their promise to respect the human right to seek asylum. This means ending family separations, indefinite detention, and other cruel policies designed to break the spirit of people seeking safety; acting on day one to shield immigrants from deportation to countries facing crisis; and restoring due process and fairness to the administration of our asylum laws.

Add your name to our petition calling on the Biden and Harris transition team to fulfill their promises by taking concrete steps to restore integrity to the asylum system. Read the full text of the petition below the signing widget.

Petition

Dear President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris,

We, the undersigned members of the public congratulate you on your victory in the 2020 presidential election. The historic levels of turnout and engagement with this election reflect a clear repudiation of far-right racist and xenophobic policies and a strong popular mandate to place human rights at the center of U.S. policy, both at home and abroad. We therefore call upon you to use your first days in office to honor your pledge to restore protections in full for families and individuals seeking asylum at our nation’s borders.

As people of faith and conscience, we are appalled by the outgoing administration’s pattern of cruelty toward asylum-seekers and refugees. Over the past four years, we have seen the executive branch dismantle the asylum system root and branch, deport people to danger without a hearing, and inflict policies on immigrant families so heinous that medical experts have described them as a form of torture. Such practices are not only immoral, they also recklessly disregard international laws our country has sworn to uphold.

We applaud your shared commitment on the campaign trail to end these brutal policies and restore fairness and due process to our nation’s asylum system. As your team’s plan for immigration states, President-elect Biden has pledged to “reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees.” These commitments are reflected as well in Senator Harris’ legislative record in Congress, including her support as a co-sponsor of the Refugee Protection Act (S. 2936).

We urge you to follow through on these promises by taking the following steps in office:

  • End the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols”—more accurately known as the Remain in Mexico program—which has stranded thousands of families and individuals in deadly conditions.
  • Halt all Title 42 expulsions of asylum-seeking families and unaccompanied children, which remove people to danger without a fair hearing, and restore access to statutory asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture protections. We are very concerned that you have not yet explicitly committed to end Title 42 expulsions and urge you to do so now. Other protections will be a dead letter so long as people are barred or expelled without due process before they are able to access them.
  • End family detention, and honor protections for children laid out in the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act and the Flores settlement.
  • Reverse regulatory bars to asylum eligibility imposed by the Trump administration, expand the use of parole and other alternatives to detention, and restore access to work authorization for asylum-seekers awaiting the outcome of their removal proceedings.
  • End all criminal prosecutions of nonviolent border-related offenses, including but not limited to so-called “zero tolerance” prosecutions of asylum-seekers and parents traveling with children.
  • Grant Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) protections to immigrants from countries facing humanitarian crisis, including all Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, so as to ensure the U.S. government does not send any more people into harm’s way.

During their four years in office, the Trump administration dealt untold damage to our nation’s values; yet we recognize too that the Obama presidency was a dark time for people seeking asylum at our borders. The previous Democratic administration, in which President-elect Biden served, not only reopened and expanded the use of family detention, they also carried out record numbers of deportations and pressured regional governments to block families and children from seeking a haven in the United States.

We appreciate President-elect Biden’s acknowledgment in the final presidential debate that many of these policies were a mistake. As he said on that occasion: “It took [the previous administration] too long to get it right.” The start of a new presidential term offers a vital opportunity to get it right this time. We urge you to follow through on the historic promises you have made, and we will continue to monitor these issues closely in the years ahead.

 

Photo Credit: iStock – shakzu