Arizona – This week, President Biden remarked that he’d be willing to make “significant compromises” on border policies in order to strike a deal with Republicans on aid to Ukraine and Israel. This marks a significant departure for President Biden, who campaigned on restoring humanity to our immigration system, by essentially telling Republicans that he’s willing to adopt Trump policies on the border to pass a bill that already has significant support from both parties.
Advocate groups in Arizona, many of which are the first to receive asylum seekers, worry that these proposed changes that President Biden is willing to make will only lead to further chaos in the border region, and make asylum all but impossible for the vast majority of people seeking safety in the U.S.
Laura St. John, Legal Director for the Florence Project said, “These permanent changes to our asylum laws would be nothing short of devastating for people seeking safety in the United States, including families. Everybody is entitled to live a life safe from harm and persecution; it is a fundamental human right. If the changes reported in this deal are passed, people from around the world could no longer rely on the United States as the beacon of hope and safety that it has been for generations. These changes are radical, extreme, and go against our very core values. We urge all members of Congress to stand on the side of fundamental human rights and reject these changes to asylum.”
Joanna Williams, Executive Director of Kino Border Initiative added, “As a Catholic organization deeply rooted in our local community of Nogales here at the U.S./Mexico border, we firmly oppose any deal that would cause harm to our community members, especially moms, dads and kids who have fled extreme violence. We urgently need a supplemental funding package that protects and defends people in conflict areas. Especially in Arizona, this package must not be delayed by extraneous political debates, because these resources will support the much needed humanitarian work that U.S. groups are doing to coordinate orderly reception of asylum seekers.”
Noah Schramm, Policy Strategist at ACLU of Arizona added, “It is shameful how quick elected officials are to endanger migrants’ lives and use people as political bargaining chips. Time and time again, we have seen how efforts to make the asylum process more restrictive only push people into ever more life-threatening situations. As Congress now considers extreme legislative proposals that would all but eviscerate access to asylum, we implore all members to firmly reject any such changes that would shut the door to those fleeing violence and persecution.”