U.S. border officials’ recent use of the debunked Stephen Miller policy against Ukrainian refugees at the southern border has only added to the urgency for ending this illegal policy once and for all. Earlier this month, Customs and Border Protection initially turned away a mom and children who’d trekked through numerous nations to seek safety here. Since then, further families seeking safety have been initially blocked.
“The moment they reach the U.S. soil and they say they are here for asylum, they can’t send them back," immigration attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells CBS8. "They have to actually process them and go through the critical interview. However, they are just sending them back and they are not supposed to do that.”
Recent days have also continued to expose the racist and oftentimes arbitrary nature of the Title 42 policy, which the Biden administration has continued to shamefully keep in effect. That Ukrainian family initially turned away last week? They were since granted a humanitarian exemption from Title 42 and allowed to enter the U.S.
But Central American and Haitian asylum-seekers continue to be turned away. Russians, similarly fleeing dictator Vladimir Putin’s grasp, have been blocked.
Respected Boston Globe columnist Marcela García noted how “the arrival of Ukrainian refugees at the border also raises questions about disparate treatment of other asylum seekers from Haiti and Central America who have been systematically turned away for months at the same spot.” She noted that while the Ukrainian family was able to get an exemption relatively quickly, advocates have watched officials reject the same kind of requests for families of color. The State Department has warned Americans it’s too dangerous to travel to Haiti, yet Title 42 exemptions for Haitians are at around a dismal 14% approval rate, VICE said.
“So will it be the Ukrainian refugee crisis that finally puts the nail in the coffin of Title 42?” García continued. “Will it take the plight of white, European refugees for the government—and the American public—to care about what’s happening to asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border?”
While the administration made the right decision to terminate Title 42 as it pertains to unaccompanied children, it remains in effect for others, continuing to stomp on their asylum rights. Hundreds of groups have in recent days continued to urge the president to end Miller’s policy, calling it “a stain on the conscience of the United States.” Democratic lawmakers have also vocally opposed the policy, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who last fall said Haitian deportations defy “common sense” and “common decency.”
“The United States encourages other countries to uphold refugee law and welcome people fleeing across borders in search of protection, including those now forced to flee Ukraine,” more than 300 immigrant and civil rights organizations said in a March 10 letter. “We urge your administration to lead by example and uphold refugee law at U.S. borders.” Rather than spending more taxpayer funds on multibillion agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement, let’s devote more resources to creating a welcoming system that respects the rights and humanity of people seeking safety at our border.
“I’m not asking for anything from the United States, just to be let in,” the Ukrainian mother who was initially blocked under Title 42 told The San Diego Union-Tribune last week. “All we need is to be safe. All we want is to keep our lives safe.” It’s assuredly the same ask being made by Central American, Haitian, and other vulnerable asylum-seekers too.
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