For Immediate Release
May 8, 2023
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Florence Project Condemns Immigration Bill Proposed by Senators Sinema and Tillis
The bill would codify Title 42-style expulsions and have drastic consequences for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Phoenix, AZ – The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project condemns in the strongest possible terms the border expulsion legislation proposed by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I – AZ) and Thom Tillis (R – NC). The legislation, if enacted, would end our asylum system as we know it, eviscerate protections for unaccompanied children and survivors of torture, and drastically expand immigration detention.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that this legislation would end asylum in the United States,” says Laura St. John, Legal Director at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. “Rather than putting forth a serious proposal for much-needed immigration reform, Senators Sinema and Tillis have chosen to attempt to codify some of the most punitive, cruel, and ineffective policies that we have seen at the border in recent memory. This bill is an insult to every single Arizonan and American who supports asylum seekers and believes that immigration makes our country better, and it is an abhorrent betrayal of the American ideals and historical legacy that gave rise to asylum protections in this country.”
In addition to codifying a Title 42-like border expulsion policy, which would wreak havoc at the border and put millions more people in danger, it would also mandate the detention and expulsion of all migrants who arrive at the southern border without authorization. Adults, unaccompanied children, and families alike would be turned away without having the opportunity to ask for protection in the United States. This means that even toddlers could be expelled to Mexico alone. It would also significantly raise the bar for people even to begin the process to seek protection in the United States, in direct violation of the Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. is bound to uphold. Blocking access to asylum, as we have for the past three years, only puts people seeking protection in further danger and forces people into making impossible decisions out of desperation in order to keep their families safe. There is simply no justification for continuing such inhumane policies even one day longer.
We have been clear on this for over three years now: Title 42 is bad politics and bad policy. It has directly caused chaos and dysfunction at the border. Codifying it will not address any of the issues that Senators Sinema and Tillis claim to be attempting to solve. Rather it will exacerbate current challenges at the border by continuing and, in fact, increasing expulsions back to Mexico. Instead of addressing the very real humanitarian challenges that we face at the southern border, this bill chooses the most cruel, punitive, and inhumane option at every turn by making standards for review higher and consequences for failing to meet those standards harsher.
Robust, humane asylum processing at the border is both our moral obligation and sound immigration policy. We urge all Senators and Representatives to reject this callous, nakedly political, and punitive effort to eviscerate our asylum system and to instead focus on solutions-based legislation that provides the humanitarian resources and government support that border communities need and have repeatedly requested.
The Florence Project will continue to stand proudly alongside all those seeking protection in the United States and to welcome all migrants to the U.S. with dignity and humanity.