In reaction to President Biden’s Executive Actions on Immigration, Oxfam America’s Global Policy Lead Noah Gottschalk said:
“The Biden administration faces a daunting task as it acts to dismantle the network of xenophobic policies imposed by the Trump administration and begins to restore America’s rightful place as a safe haven for people fleeing persecution and violence. They must now move quickly to address the harm caused by these policies, and work with Congress to ensure they can never again be inflicted on people seeking safety and a chance at the American Dream.
“The results of the policy reviews announced today by President Biden cannot come soon enough for the tens of thousands of people still living in limbo. The ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy, which President Biden rightfully rescinded last week, was just one of the many tools his predecessor used to separate families. Every day that policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 remain in place is a day that brings further separation and pain to tens of thousands of families. Ending the Title 42 policy has taken on added urgency following a federal court ruling last week that allows unaccompanied children who arrive at the US-Mexico border to be expelled from the country without due process. With their lives hanging in the balance, the people impacted by these policies must be swiftly reunited with their families in safety and have their right to seek asylum upheld.
“As the Biden administration moves to act on today’s commitments and Congress pursues its immigration agenda, people are still contracting – and dying from – COVID-19 in detention facilities which serve no practical purpose. Deportations that disproportionately target Black immigrants continue to tear people from their families and communities, risking spreading the virus even further and violating people’s rights. The administration has the power and the tools to safely release people from immigration detention facilities and enact a moratorium on all deportations and immigration enforcement actions for the duration of the pandemic.
“We commend President Biden’s efforts to expand the pathways available for people seeking protection in the US, and welcome the administration’s stated commitment to raise the annual refugee admissions ceiling to a level that better meets the scale of global need. Tens of thousands of refugees who had already gone through the lengthy vetting process had the rug pulled out from under them by the Trump administration’s unprecedented attacks on the bipartisan refugee admissions program. Although Trump’s efforts to completely decimate the program ultimately failed, lasting damage was done. The administration and Congress must work urgently to resource and rebuild this life-saving program and re-open the ‘Golden Door’ that the last administration slammed on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The US can and should both provide urgent relief to those who are caught in danger, while also addressing the underlying issues that force families from their homes in the first place. After years of living in limbo, we owe it to these families to make this right, right now.”
“Today’s Executive Orders are an important step forward; we now urge the administration to act as quickly as possible to fulfill its legal obligations to people seeking safe haven. Seeking asylum is a human right. After years of harmful policies that have violated that right and the dignity of asylum seekers, we must start to build bridges, not walls. Women, children, and men who survived arduous journeys fleeing for their lives should be met not with hostility and fear but with compassion and civility.”
In response to President Biden’s announcements related to Central America, Ana María Méndez, Oxfam’s Country Director in Guatemala said:
“Every year, thousands of people in Central America are forced to leave their homes to escape persecution, violence, instability, poverty, and climate crises. The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the challenges facing the region where resources to combat the virus are woefully unavailable. Leaders in Central America should uphold the rights of people on the move, while also protecting and providing economic opportunities for their citizens so that families are not forced to flee in the first place. President Biden must live up to his commitments to work with his counterparts in the region to end pervasive violence, tackle corruption, and address both the urgent needs and the futures of families caught in crisis.”