Past Is Prologue: WRC Calls for Biden Admin to Change Course in 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marking the one-year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) today issued a new review of the Biden administration’s year-one asylum policies. The document, “The Biden Administration Falls Short on Asylum During Year One: A Call for Change in 2022,” shows a disconnect between President Biden’s campaign promises and his administration’s enacted asylum policies, along with the perpetuation of many Trump-era U.S. border policies.
“One year ago, we all held so much hope for the future of U.S. asylum policies toward families and others seeking safety at our borders,” said Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at WRC. “Today, we feel profound disappointment.”
The review notes that in 2021, most migrants, including people seeking protection at the U.S. border with Mexico, were either turned away or expelled, with ports of entry remaining closed to asylum seekers. Initially, the Biden administration did shift course from Trump’s Remain in Mexico (RMX) policy. In late 2021, the Biden administration not only reinstated the policy following a court order, it also expanded the populations now subject to the program. RMX has restarted in San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas – with plans to continue expansion along the border in 2022.
Migrants, including people seeing safety at the border, have been expelled, sometimes repeatedly, more than 885,000 times since Biden took office, including more than 125,000 expulsions of parents and children. The Biden administration’s continuation of Title 42 expulsions – a policy enacted by Trump under the guise of public health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been found to have led to more than 8,700 reports of violent attacks on those who were expelled to dangerous conditions. Public health experts across the country have decried the use of Title 42 as a valid public health intervention.
“While the Biden administration did make some positive changes, it has also embraced policies that are rooted in xenophobia and racism, rejecting both science and protections guaranteed under U.S. asylum laws,” said Obser. “It is unconscionable that the Biden administration continues to double down on its predecessor’s anti-asylum policies.”
The review cited additional areas of concern, including the administration’s abandonment of settlement talks with families that were separated under the Trump administration’s policies, and increased detention in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, facilities that WRC has long found inappropriate and that are especially dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The administration has the ability to change course and live up to the promises made by President Biden,” said Obser. “We urge the administration to reverse course and establish the U.S. as a nation that models an orderly, dignified, and fair asylum system.”