tags: , , , , Press Releases

America’s Voice on the Incoming Biden Administration’s Vision for Asylum, Migration and Central America

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“We look forward to working with – and pushing – the new administration to turn this vision into reality as soon as possible.”

 In an interview published Monday evening by the Spanish-language EFE News Service, senior incoming Biden Administration officials Jake Sullivan and Ambassador Susan Rice outlined a new vision for responding to asylum and migration in the region, especially from Central America. The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“What a difference a new administration will make, especially in the arena of immigration.

The Trump administration has created a moral catastrophe and a huge mess – at the U.S.-Mexico border, and in the region south of the border. Just some of what Trump and his henchman Stephen Miller have done to the asylum system, plus:

  • Ended investments in Central America aimed at reducing violence; 
  • Ended the chance to apply for refugee status and resettlement from the region; 
  • Ended the option of applying for asylum at the border entirely, using the cover of the pandemic to expel all arrivals; 
  • Separated thousands of families at the border, shocking the conscience of Americans and the world, with 666 kids yet to be reunited with their parents; 
  • Threw kids in cages and locked adults in detention centers that turned into COVID hotspots; 
  • Forced tens of thousands of people seeking protection into dangerous areas of northern Mexico; and 
  • Ended case management programs that help those applying for asylum to find attorneys and comply with court hearings and decisions. 

It’s all part of Trump and Miller’s relentless assault on immigrants and refugees – one that continues even this week, as the latest challenge to the DACA program and a new cruel asylum regulation remind us.

In stark contrast, the incoming Biden Administration is advancing a smart, workable and humane approach to Central America migration. It is rooted in our values and recognizes that while this phenomenon affects our border, it does not start at our border. 

The three pillars of the new administration’s strategy are as follows:

  1. Address root causes so that, over time, migration is a choice, not a necessity; 
  2. Expand lawful pathways from the region through refugee resettlement, work visas and family reunification; and 
  3. Develop a functional and fair asylum process, relying on case management programs to ensure compliance with the asylum process, rather than throwing kids, parents and individuals into detention centers that have become COVID hotspots.  

This ‘transformative vision’ is the right approach at the right time. Once fully implemented, it should allow America to address and manage these complicated issues in a humane, workable and sustainable manner – for the first time in decades. 

The incoming Biden officials are not wrong to talk about how challenging it will be to put in place the policies, personnel, training, infrastructure and resources to operationalize this vision. But let’s not take our foot off the pedal. There’s an urgent need to implement their plan with the speed and follow through necessary to clean up the huge mess left by the Trump administration. With so many in desperate need, it’s time to do right by our laws, our international agreements, our allies and our nation’s commitment to welcoming those fleeing persecution and violence in search of safety and freedom. 

We look forward to working with – and pushing – the new administration to turn this vision into reality as soon as possible.”