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CGRS, Sept. 30, 2021
"Today the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Biden administration’s request for stay in Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, a class action lawsuit brought by the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Oxfam America, RAICES, and Texas Civil Rights Project. The ruling blocks a lower court injunction slated to take effect tonight, which would have temporarily halted Title 42 expulsions of families seeking safety in the United States. As disappointing as today’s decision is, the fight to end Title 42 is far from over. CGRS and our co-counsel will continue advocating for the courageous families we represent, and our national movement to welcome asylum seekers with dignity is stronger than ever.
“The Biden administration’s embrace of Title 42 has exposed people seeking safety to untold violence and suffering,” CGRS Managing Attorney Neela Chakravartula said today. “The administration’s decision to defend the policy in court is unconscionable, and a complete betrayal of the president’s promise to restore access to asylum. Recent events have laid bare the tragic consequences of Title 42. In less than two weeks, the administration has expelled over 5,000 Haitians to a country plagued with widespread violence and insecurity – a human rights travesty, and no small operational feat. They could have used those resources to safely welcome Haitians seeking refuge. Instead, the president has adopted Trump’s racist policy as his own, without regard for the families and children harmed as a result.”
Introduced by the Trump administration in March 2020, the Title 42 policy deprives asylum seekers of their right to pursue protection, allowing border officials to rapidly expel them to Mexico or to their home countries with no process whatsoever. Title 42 has fueled violence and chaos at the southern border, stranding vulnerable families, children, and adults in some of the most dangerous regions in the world, where they routinely fall prey to cartels. Human rights investigators have documented over 6,300 violent attacks on people returned to Mexico in the first seven months of the Biden administration. Others, such as the Haitian families brutalized by U.S. border agents in Del Rio, Texas last week, have been placed on mass deportation flights to the very countries they have fled.
Title 42 has been illegal on its face from day one. The policy violates the right of people fleeing persecution to seek asylum, enshrined in the United States’ laws and international treaty obligations. In a rare public rebuke, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has urged the Biden administration to abandon Title 42, recognizing the policy’s inconsistency with international law and its “serious humanitarian consequences.” Today UNHCR and several other UN agencies called on the administration to immediately halt Title 42 expulsions of Haitians seeking protection.
While the Biden administration continues to tout Title 42 as a necessary pandemic measure, the policy was forced into effect by the Trump White House over objections from top doctors within the CDC itself. For over a year and a half, public health and epidemiological experts have urged an end to Title 42, calling it “xenophobia masquerading as a public health measure” and recognizing the policy’s insidious role in exacerbating the spread of COVID-19. The district court in Huisha-Huisha listened to the science. There is simply no valid public health rationale for Title 42. It is long past time for the administration to abandon the policy."