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Three Key Points To Keep In Mind As Title 42 Winds Down

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“We know how to do this. We have processed people through our asylum system and have done so with countless migrants seeking safety…” Vanessa Cárdenas

Washington, DC – Today’s overdue end of Title 42 is an opportunity to reset and refocus on what is desperately needed – long-term solutions to modernize our approach to regional migration and our larger immigration system. Below are several key points about the current moment and where we need to go, followed by a quote from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice.

  • Point 1: On Title 42 and the coming weeks:

Title 42 was used to close our ports of entry to asylum seekers and turn away migrants lawfully seeking asylum in the United States. It not only turned our back on proud American traditions, but it contributed to chaos and incentivized attempts at multiple crossings. The public health rationale was always a fig leaf and now that the courts and public health experts have taken away that pretense, there is a pent-up demand for those seeking asylum at our border. 

So yes, we’ll face a near-term increase in the volume of individuals and families seeking asylum and refuge due to the backlog and bottleneck caused by Title 42 and larger continued regional push factors. Some of those arriving also have been spurred on by misinformation or disinformation – much of it coming from Republicans and right wing media – that the border is ‘open.’ 

But instead of solely focusing on the short-term numbers – turning the real lives and stories of migrants and asylum seekers into statistics – we must also remain focused on the humanity of real people and use this moment to take stock of how we move from the status quo of the chaotic broken system on display to a larger and lasting view of what solutions work and how to enact them.

  • Point 2: We can do this – solutions and examples of communities stepping up:

There are real challenges with how to address the reality of hemispheric migration and plenty of smart and affirmative policy ideas have been put forth to ensure that we can meet this moment – and the coming years – with both order and justice and in pursuit of a broader overhaul of our immigration system that works for America. 

Meanwhile, plenty of everyday Americans and service providers are offering real-time examples of what’s possible when we work together to meet this moment. For instance, more than 250,000 people in the United States have joined the national effort to sponsor refugee newcomers through Operation Allies Welcome, Uniting for Ukraine, the parole process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans, and the Welcome Corps.

  • Point 3: Where we need to go – beyond the border and recognizing GOP role in blocking legislative fix we need:

All of this is in the context and with the constraints of a fundamentally broken system that is in desperate need of a legislative modernization that a radicalized Republican Party continues to block. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration and some Democrats seem to be buying in the GOP vision of the situation – embracing blunt, Trump-like deterrence policies with a lengthy record of failure that erect new barriers to asylum along with the accompanying belief that short-term political optics should drive our long-term policy vision. 

Unfortunately in light of the legislative fix we sorely need, the Republican Party refuses to partner on real solutions – just look at the House Republicans’ H.R. 2 immigration bill set for a vote today for a snapshot of the GOP’s legislative vision and priorities. This GOP bill is a grab-bag of cruel, unworkable and extreme policies that would add more chaos and dysfunction to an already broken immigration system rather than advancing serious and popular solutions. It even would dismantle policies that alleviate pressures on the border and those that offer alternatives to a trek to the southern border. It’s more designed for political talking points and GOP fundraising appeals than advancing real solutions.

Since this issue is just about politics to Republicans, let’s be clear about the political moment on immigration: President Biden and Democrats can win the immigration debate if they chart balanced solutions in contrast with Republican extremism. They cannot if they cede the debate to Republicans or adopt the myopic view that the immigration debate is just about the border.

The following is a reflection from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“America can manage this moment. 

We know how to do this. We have processed people through our asylum system and have done so with countless migrants seeking safety, including tens of thousands who fled Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. A functional asylum system and an orderly southern border are within our reach if we devote the resources to processing people, protecting their rights under our laws, and ensuring that the implementation and operationalization of new pathways are successful. 

But we also need to come to grips with the realities of migration and the political impasse we have witnessed for decades. The “crisis” is not immigrants’ desire to come here. That desire is one of our greatest blessings and what makes us the envy of the world.  The “crisis” is that we don’t have legal channels to facilitate immigration so that it is vetted, controlled and fully benefits the American people. We need to address the real political disconnect with regards to immigration policy, which is that Americans support legal immigration while MAGA Republicans weaponize it for political gain. Republicans need to join Democrats to chart a bolder vision to create a modern immigration system worthy of our economic might and worthy of our proud tradition as a welcoming nation and a nation of immigrants. The end of Title 42 presents a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to work towards that goal.”

Background Resources

  • America’s Voice memo: “Three Key Points About Migration and Modernizing Our Immigration System” detailing what a smart and affirmative policy vision for managing regional migration looks like; why the current dysfunction calls for a larger legislative overhaul and modernization that Republicans continue to block – they prefer the chaos of a broken system for political reasons; and recapping public opinion underscoring how Americans overwhelmingly want immigration reform and strongly back a balanced approach instead of GOP, enforcement-only focus. 
  • America’s Voice backgrounder: “Republicans Are Against Solutions and Policies that Alleviate Border Pressures; In Favor of Chaos and Politicized Misinformation,” highlighting the role of Republicans in forging and maintaining our broken immigration system and blocking or opposing policies that alleviate pressures and provide alternatives to a trek to the border. Also see this America’s Voice analysis on HR2 HERE
  • America’s Voice “Checklist and Suggested Guidelines for Media Reporting Covering the End of Title 42.” This short guide notes that because there will be a lot of disinformation and fear-mongering, it is critical that journalists covering these developments are accurate and responsible in their reporting, do not replicate inaccurate messages and inadvertently amplify them, and avoid incendiary reporting that plays into stereotypes. Remember, first and foremost, migrants are human beings who made an arduous journey, often fleeing for their lives.