DHS Secretary Mayorkas Under Pressure as Hundreds of Religious Leaders and Organizations Assail Asylum Restrictions Instituted at COVID Start

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By Paloma Sifuentes and Alexis Rios-Jimenez

WASHINGTON, DC – The Interfaith Immigration Coalition this week sought to help those seeking asylum in the U.S. by releasing a statement signed by more than 420 religious leaders and faith-based organizations asking Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reverse the expansion of Title 42 and work on strengthening the nation’s ability to take in individuals seeking asylum.

Title 42 refers to a section of the U.S. Code that can be traced back to 1944 that  authorizes federal health authorities to restrict the entrance of migrants into the country once it has been found that doing so could potentially stave off the spread of contagious infection and disease.

As the coronavirus outbreak gripped the U.S. and the rest of the world, the CDC invoked Title 42 in March of 2020, giving the Border Patrol the authorization to turn away migrants in large numbers and preventing many from being able to request asylum.

In the statement, Title 42 is described as “an asylum-blocking expulsion policy first invoked by the Trump administration to turn away asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border under the guise of protecting public health.”

The expansion of Title 42 under the Biden Administration earlier in October would expel all Venezuelans seeking refuge at the U.S.-Mexican border, and although there was an exception left in place that allowed for “no more than 24,000 Venezuelans who have ties in the United States to sponsor them.”

In the letter sent to Mayorkas, the groups urged him to put an end to the expansion of Title 42, as it differs from their humanitarian traditions and practices.

They argued the political, economic, and social state of Venezuela with the addition of Covid-19 restrictions, has created violent living conditions for the people. As a result of the Venezuelan crisis, it has produced 7.1 million refugees worldwide.

The U.S. administration encourages them to assist those who are at risk in their home country and in need of protection.

The faith and religious organizations add the administration would be enforcing an unlawful and immoral anti-asylum policy with the expansion of Title 42.

In addition, the statement touched on the growing instances of violent crimes on people affected by Title 42, maintaining “since President Biden took office, there have been at least 10.318 reports of violent attacks–including rape, kidnapping, and assault—against people blocked from requesting protection at the U.S.-Mexico border and/or expelled to Mexico under Title 42, as tracked by Human Rights First.”

The groups added, “It has been used disparately to expel Black migrants, particularly Haitians, back to a country ill-equipped to support their safe return and reintegration.”

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About The Author

Alexis Rios-Jimenez is a recent graduate from California State University, Los Angeles where he majored in Political Science with an option in Pre-Legal Studies as well as a minor in Communications. He currently works for a personal injury law firm as he prepares to go to law school to become a civil rights attorney. Alexis is actively involved in his community, representing the 57th assembly district in the democratic party as a Delegate.

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