WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.-14), alongside Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas-35), and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.-07), Thursday led a bicameral group of nearly 80 lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to reverse his administration’s expansion of the failed border policy known as Title 42 and to abandon the proposed asylum “transit ban” rule.”
The lawmakers also encouraged the President and his administration to work with Congress to ensure they develop safe, humane, and orderly border policies that enforce our immigration laws and uphold the right to asylum under domestic and international law.
“The administration’s announced border enforcement actions circumvent [domestic and international] law by not only expanding Title 42 beyond what is required by any court but by further implementing policies to deter and penalize people exercising their legal right to seek asylum at the border,” wrote the bicameral group of lawmakers to President Biden. “…We are therefore distressed by the deeply inconsistent choice to expand restrictions on asylum seekers after your administration determined it was no longer necessary for public health. Title 42 circumvents domestic law and international law. Human rights groups have extensively documented more than 10,000 violent attacks – including kidnappings, serious assaults, and deaths – against individuals who were expelled to or blocked in Mexico due to Title 42 since the beginning of your administration, with a disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, and Indigenous migrants.”
Sens. Menendez and Booker and Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Casar hosted a press conference outside the Senate steps today to detail their request to President Biden. Sen. Ed Markey and Reps. Judy Chu, Jan Schakowsky, Yvette Clarke, and Cori Bush participated in the press conference.
“We are further concerned by the administration’s announcement that it will be issuing a proposed rulemaking in the coming days that would require asylum seekers to first apply for asylum in a transit country instead of allowing them to seek their legal right to asylum at our southern border. This, in effect, is a transit ban. The courts rightly rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to categorically end asylum when he similarly required asylum seekers to seek asylum in transit countries,” lawmakers said.
“Specifically, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Trump-Era Third Country Transit ban violated well-settled U.S. asylum laws that prohibit turning people away unless they have “firmly resettled” in a transit country, especially not if conditions in the transit country are not safe… At the time of this ruling, countries across the Western Hemisphere were unable to meet such requirements. There does not appear to be evidence to show that country conditions in transit countries have improved since the relevant appellate decision was rendered as to justify a new Third Country Transit bar. As the administration well knows, current conditions in Mexico – the primary transit country – cannot ensure safety for the families seeking refuge in the United States,” lawmakers said.
“It is unconscionable that asylum seekers have no option but to sleep in the streets of El Paso, in overcrowded shelters in Juarez, or in tents in Reynosa, but new asylum restrictions against migrants will not solve this problem. We believe that your administration can and must continue to expand legal pathways for migrants and refugees into the United States – without further dismantling the right to seek asylum at our border. This right is a pillar of the post-war international order to which the United States has committed itself. We are ready to work with you to ensure that we can have a safe, humane, and orderly border that upholds the right to asylum,” concluded the lawmakers.