Despite making multiple promises to end the policy, the Biden administration is expanding Title 42 and planning to implement further policies to effectively ban asylum. Some members of Congress have also proposed implementing restrictive asylum policies. Tell President Biden and your Members of Congress to oppose any efforts to reinstate Title 42. It is time to end this unjust policy.
An asylum seeker is an individual who meets the international definition of a refugee – meaning that they are fleeing persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or specific social group membership – and who applies for protection inside the U.S. or at the border. The first formal refugee and asylum policies in the U.S. were passed in response to the millions of displaced people in Europe in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust. The Refugee Act of 1980 formalized the U.S. commitment to respond to people seeking protection from persecution across the globe.
Under U.S. and international law, anyone who steps on U.S. soil or who presents themselves at a U.S. port of entry is entitled to apply for asylum. An asylum seeker must then pass a “credible fear” interview in which an immigration agent determines if there is a “significant possibility” of danger for the individual in their home country.
In regular times, individuals claiming asylum are allowed to make their claim and wait within the U.S. as their case is decided. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration invoked a rule known as Title 42, allowing them to expel migrants under the guise of public health. Title 42 prohibits entry into the US when the CDC believes there is a threat of introducing a communicable disease into the country. President Biden continued using Title 42, most notably using it to expel and deport over 22,000 Haitian migrants and asylum seekers since January 2021.
The President has attempted to end Title 42, but it has remained in place as the Supreme Court is hearing a case around the policy. While the case remains in the courts, however, the Biden administration has expanded the policy and is planning to implement new policies to go in effect once Title 42 has ended, effectively banning asylum. Some members of Congress have also proposed expanding Title 42 or implementing other restrictive asylum policies.
While the President has put in place various humanitarian parole programs that are helping some migrants seek refuge, these policies are temporary and only helping people from certain countries. It is time to end Title 42 and restore asylum for all those seeking refuge.
The Torah has many stories and laws that inspire us to welcome migrants and asylum seekers: Abraham and Sarah famously welcomed three mysterious guests into their tent. We read in Genesis that not only did Abraham allow the guests to enter, he also ran towards them, modeling the enthusiasm with which we should embrace those seeking refuge (Genesis 18:1-5). At Passover, we read about the importance of internalizing the lessons of the Exodus and reflecting this awareness in our actions. Deuteronomy teaches the importance of protecting those fleeing dangerous conditions, telling of the imperative to protect the escaped slave—an archetype of someone in physical danger (23:16). We draw inspiration from these sources and others as we call on our elected officials to welcome asylum seekers and refugees.
Tell President Biden and your Members of Congress to restore asylum once and for all.
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