You can listen to a recording of the call here
In another week of America’s Voice “Office Hours,” experts and advocates discussed the recent immigration developments. Speakers delved into March CBP numbers, analyzed the root causes of migration, discussed the role of refugee resettlement as part of a regional strategy, and denounced the treatment of Haitians, with specific reference to a recent report co-authored by Haitian Bridge Alliance, The Invisible Wall: Title 42 and its Impact on Haitian Migrants.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said, “We need to look at refugee resettlement as an important piece of the puzzle to address the most vulnerable in our own hemisphere – especially children. It’s essential that we build in-country processing capacity in Central America to provide alternative pathways to protection and eliminate some of the need for migrant children and families to embark on the long, dangerous journey to the border. The Biden administration’s re-institution of the Central American Minor program and its aim to establish processing capacity abroad through its immigration legislation are both vital steps in the right direction. It should not go unnoticed, however, that the administration has thus far failed to act on its proposal to revise the refugee admissions ceiling for this year. Without doing so, the Trump administration’s restrictive refugee policy remains in place, and thousands of children and families must defer their hopes of safety until Biden’s pen meets paper.”
Guerline Jozef, Co-founder and Executive Director, Haitian Bridge Alliance, said, “When we look at the root causes of why people migrate from their countries, what we are seeing is that the majority of Black people in the US-Mexico border have been in transit for the past 10 years. Whether they were in Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, as a result of different unrest were forced to again leave. The people who are in the US-Mexico border have been there from a year-and-a-half to even five years. So when we hear about a crisis at the border, right now we are seeing the consequence of the past 5 years. We are seeing the result of an asylum system that has been completely dismantled. We are seeing the result of the use of Title 42, that is being used as a trap for people who are desperately in need of protection. That is why we are asking for the rescindment of Title 42 to provide protection to the poor people that are in dire need.And we are also asking for President Biden to immediately redesignate TPS for Haiti.”
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel, American Immigration Council, said, “The Biden administration is dealing with two very different phenomena at the border. 67% of border apprehensions since January have been single adults, who began coming in large numbers the moment lockdowns lifted across Mexico and Central America last spring. Nearly all are expelled back to Mexico without being allowed to seek asylum, causing many to cross repeatedly, further driving up apprehensions and producing headlines about the highest number of encounters in decades. At the same time, families and children are more closely tracking 2019 levels, with higher numbers of unaccompanied children offset by lower numbers of families. Despite Biden’s promise to restore asylum at the border, far fewer families are being permitted to seek asylum today than under the Trump administration in 2019.
Oscar Chacon, Executive Director, Alianza Americas, said, “The greatest challenge when it comes to immigration issues is the urgent need to overcome the false and poisonous narrative about immigrants imposed on the nation by white supremacist and xenophobic forces since the early 1980’s. The Biden Administration must defy such a hateful and deceiving narrative, and reorient the conversation based on the undeniable fact that immigrants and refugees have enriched the United States of America in multiple ways. The times we are living call for truly new beginnings on multiple fronts. The way we treat asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants; as well as the way we recast the conversation about immigration policy, must not be exceptions. If there is a crisis that urges solutions is what is happening in México and Central American nations. If these nations can become more prosperous, more democratic, much safer for everyone; there will be fewer people forced to flee their countries.”