A delegation of human rights organizations traveled to the US’s southern border on Friday to “bear witness” to the end of Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy. The organizations condemned the situation and described it as being “rooted in violence and abuse instead of compassion.” Amidst Title 42’s expiration, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of the Biden administration’s new immigration rule.
The delegation to the US southern border included representatives from human rights organizations such as the ACLU, Amnesty International and Human Rights First. One of those present, Executive Director of the UndocuBlack Network Patrice Lawrence described what the delegation saw as “blatant human rights violations.” The delegation witnessed immigrants attempting to navigate changes to the US immigration system which came into effect Thursday at midnight with Title 42’s expiration.
Migrants described problems accessing CBP One, the app the Biden administration is relying upon to schedule asylum hearings for migrants arriving along the US southern border. Without scheduling an appointment via the CBP One app, migrants face an uphill battle at one of the US ports of entry to prove the app was either inaccessible or that they have a viable asylum claim. If they are unable to do so, under the Biden administration’s new rule, the migrant faces a minimum five-year ban and potential criminal prosecution if they attempt to reenter the US in violation of that ban.
The delegation called upon the Biden administration to “uphold asylum and due process, rescind its new asylum ban, and welcome people with dignity and respect for human rights and racial justice.”
Shortly after the new rule went into effect Thursday night, the ACLU announced they would sue the Biden administration. Prior to the announcement, nearly 20,000 people signed an ACLU petition demanding the Biden administration abandon the new rule.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Friday joined human rights organizations’ calls for a better solution to the US’s immigration crisis along the southern border. In a press release, the UNHCR and IOM stated they “are concerned about new restrictions on access to asylum following the long overdue lifting of the Title 42…order.” The UNHCR and IOM recognized that the US faces challenges in finding a solution to an immigration crisis which has confounded several presidential administrations, but stated that “[b]arriers preventing people from exercising the fundamental human right to seek asylum are unacceptable and contrary to [the US’s] international obligations.”
While the Biden administration publicly claimed the number of migrants arriving along the southern border did not dramatically increase overnight with Title 42’s expiration, US border towns cited stress on already overwrought immigration support systems. The state of Texas renewed its disaster declaration, calling upon the federal government to surge resources to Texas border towns to help manage an influx of migrants.
At the same time, a ruling from a federal judge in Florida may mean more migrants remain in US border officials’ custody rather than being released into surrounding border towns. A decision handed down late Thursday night requires border officials to retain migrants in custody until they receive a notice from an immigration court to hear their asylum claims. Prior to the ruling, because of overcrowding at federal border facilities, border officials had released migrants without notice, requesting that they instead report at a later time to an immigration office.
The US Customs and Border Protection, the agency in charge of managing the southern border, stated they would comply with the order, despite the potential for overcrowding which has prompted outrage from communities within and beyond the US.