Update 12/8/22: The Biden administration has now appealed Judge Sullivan's ruling, backtracking yet again on their promises to protect asylum rights. While the outcome of the litigation is not yet clear, the administration's decision increases the odds that Title 42 will remain in effect past its currently-scheduled end date.

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Nearly 700 UUs Call on Biden to Restore Asylum

Unitarian Universalists (UUs) from around the country urge the administration to end the misuse of Title 42, halt expulsions, and restore asylum access at U.S. borders.

By on March 29, 2022

More than 670 Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith leaders, congregations, organizations and individuals have sent a joint letter to Biden administration officials urging them to stop expelling asylum-seekers and fully restore access to humanitarian protection at U.S. borders. 

In partnership with UUs for Social Justice (UUSJ), UUSC is co-leading a campaign to end the misuse of Title 42 authority to expel asylum-seekers without a hearing. As part of this effort, we have circulated a letter urging executive branch officials in the Biden administration to immediately end the Title 42 expulsions policy, restore access to asylum fully at U.S. borders, fight the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and reduce immigration detention. As of the morning of Monday, March 28, 674 people and organizations had added their names to this letter

UU-affiliated organizations from around the country joined forces to participate in this effort. The original co-signers of the letter run the gamut of UU organizations with a social justice mission, including (in addition to UUSJ and UUSC), UU Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education (UURISE), the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Texas UU Justice Ministry (TXUUJM), UU Justice Florida (UUJF), UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE), UU Mass Action Network (UUMAN), UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina, (UUJMNC), and the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA).

Moreover, nearly 200 signatories to the letter submitted words of solidarity with asylum-seekers working to end Title 42 expulsions. See the full list of signatories here and read their words of solidarity and affirmation here

The demands in this letter are particularly urgent as the administration is actively considering the future of the Title 42 policy. Recent news reports indicate the administration may be preparing to end the use of Title 42 expulsions and restore asylum access at U.S. ports of entry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which nominally controls the Title 42 policy, is expected to make a decision on whether or not to renew authority for further expulsions on March 30. 

There are also worrying signs that the administration may end Title 42 only partially, only for certain groups of asylum-seekers, or without full due process protections in place. For instance, the administration has recently published a new rule on asylum procedures. If implemented as written, this policy would restore baseline asylum screenings but pose grave threats to due process by rushing asylum-seekers through fast-track proceedings with minimal chance to seek legal counsel. 

It is therefore vital that the Biden administration hear from people of faith and conscience that we not only call for a restoration of asylum in some form, but that the administration must restore asylum fully, fairly, for all groups of asylum-seekers (regardless of age, family status, or nationality), and with complete and impartial access to due process. Rushed proceedings, continued expulsion of adults traveling without children, the return of family detention, or other carceral approaches are not acceptable. Our letter makes this clear. 

As the administration prepares to make a decision on the future of Title 42 within the coming days, we urge them to do the right thing and keep their campaign promises to restore pathways to humanitarian protection at U.S. borders. As Martha Bishop of Port Orchard, Washington writes in response to our letter: “No one should be denied a safe place to live.”

Image Credit: iStock— grandriver

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