Florence Project and Kino Border Initiative Condemn the Expansion of Title 42 to Venezuelan Asylum Seekers
The Florence Project and the Kino Border Initiative are dismayed by the Biden administration’s plans to expand the Title 42 border closure to people from more countries, including Venezuelans who do not have ties to the United States. The administration’s plan would provide some Venezuelans a pathway to protection in the United States, while the vast majority would be turned away under the Title 42 border closure.
While we are encouraged that the administration is providing some people with a path to safety, this plan ultimately adds further confusion, chaos, and discriminatory practices to an already complex border. The announced program for Venezuelans is another example of the Biden Administration adopting practices that privilege certain nationalities over others by offering people from a select country an option to seek safety that is not accessible to other nationalities. This plan also creates a specialized path to relief for the rich that simply won’t be accessible to those with more limited financial means. People fleeing persecution should not be afforded different processes or different access to protection based on nationality, family ties, wealth, or other arbitrary factors. Ultimately, by simultaneously adding Venezuelans to the list of those who can be expelled back to Mexico, this plan will likely harm more people than it helps by displacing those Venezuelans who are ineligible at the U.S.-Mexico border indefinitely.
“It is immoral, inhumane, and illegal to use Title 42 to manage migration,” said Laura St. John, the Florence Project’s Legal Director. “Life-saving asylum protections should never be limited to only people with relatives in the U.S, based on nationality, or socioeconomic status. We urgently call on the Biden administration to restore processing for all people seeking safety at the border.”
“Once again, the governments of the United States and México have decided to forget that people seeking asylum – people who are searching to safeguard their lives and those of their families from violence and persecution – are human beings and, therefore, subjects of rights, not objects that can be used to intimidate others saying ‘if you come, this is what will happen to you,’” said Pedro De Velasco, Director of Education and Advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative. “Expanding Title 42 expulsions to Mexico will harm many more people, who will be pushed to cross the border in search of safety along more dangerous routes. Rather than continuing to erode the asylum system that the president promised to restore, the administration should ensure all people can apply for protection in a fair, humane, and orderly process.”
Multiple reports over the past several years have shown just how dangerous the border closure is for people who are displaced as a result. Organized crime and cartels have thrived under Title 42, and frequently target displaced asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border. Our organizations have heard from numerous Venezuelans and Nicaraguans this summer who have reported being robbed or harmed by Mexican authorities, being victims of cartels and organized crime and facing discrimination in Mexico. These reports echo what we’ve heard from people from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries who have been impacted by this policy for over two years.
It is long past time for this administration to restore asylum processing at all ports of entry and throughout the border for everyone seeking safety, rather than reacting to each crisis and giving some people preferential treatment based on nationality, ties to the U.S., or other arbitrary factors.
The Florence Project and Kino Border Initiative stand in solidarity with all people seeking safety in the United States. We will continue to advocate that all people seeking protection have the chance to do so, regardless of existing ties to the U.S., how they enter the U.S., or their country of origin.