January 20, 2022
Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, MA—On the anniversary of President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ inauguration, the leadership of Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) jointly call for the restoration of asylum at the U.S. border:
“We are now a full year into the Biden/Harris presidency,” said UUSC president Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, “and they still have not followed through on their explicit campaign promise to respect the human right to seek asylum. On the contrary, they continue to misuse a CDC public health law, Title 42, as justification for expelling asylum-seekers at the southern border, despite public health and medical professionals stating that it has no basis in science. This blatantly violates asylum-seekers’ rights in contravention of international law and may put them at risk of violence or contracting COVID-19 inside crowded encampments in Mexico.
“The time to trust in good intentions is over. Advocates and asylum-seekers have extended every opportunity for this administration to change course. But after a full year in office—during which Biden could at any time have ended this misuse of Title 42 on his own authority—he has instead doubled down on it. The result is that Biden has now expelled more people to life-threatening dangers in Mexico, Haiti, and other countries than Trump did, carrying out more than 700,000 expulsions in the last 12 months. Haitian asylum-seekers continue to be disproportionately targeted, reflecting patterns of racism and anti-Blackness that are deeply entrenched in U.S. policy.”
“It’s not just that President Biden has let us down by continuing some bad policies left over from the Trump Administration,” said UUSJ’s executive director, Pablo DeJesús. “The President has expanded those anti-asylum policies and concocted new ones. Think of Remain in Mexico. The courts may have forced Biden and Harris to bring this policy back in some form, but the administration went further than needed by expanding it to target more people. They are also putting asylum-seeking families into rushed proceedings known as ‘rocket dockets’ that deny seekers a chance for a fair hearing. The pattern here is unmistakable and profoundly disappointing.
“Our organizations were optimistic about the new administration when they took office. But over the past year, we have seen them betray one promise after another for people seeking refuge. We will not acquiesce to this dismantling of the moral and legal right to asylum. Our advocacy will persist.”
“We will not be silent,” agreed Rev. Morn. “As a new year begins, we will keep up the fight to achieve full recognition of human rights. This requires defending the institutions of asylum and refugee protection, which are among the reasons we were founded as an organization and some of the most important collective human achievements of the post-Holocaust era.”