WASHINGTON, DC (February 8, 2023) Last night, President Biden delivered his State of the Union address, where he briefly discussed the need for immigration reform. What started as a call for Congress to work together ended with a plea for increases in officers at the border and citizenship for only a select few. This speech comes in the middle of hearings hosted by the Republican-led House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Biden’s border policies. And yesterday the Biden administration stated in a court filing that they plan to recreate the Trump-era asylum ban, adding additional barriers to those seeking refuge. In response, the American Friends Service Committee – a Quaker organization that has worked with immigrants and refugees for over a century – criticized both the Biden administration and Congress for their failure to protect basic human rights.
“Immigrants are an essential part of our communities. They are our neighbors, friends, doctors, artists, business owners, teachers, and so much more,” said Imani Cruz, Policy Advocacy Coordinator for AFSC. “We should be dedicating efforts, time, and resources to strengthening and expanding safe pathways for people to come to the U.S. for refuge, to work, and to be reunited with loved ones without putting others at risk of detention or denial of their right to seek asylum. Communities and organizations on the border and throughout the country are welcoming migrants – but the U.S. government continues to neglect and abuse them.”
As the Biden administration plans to end the public health emergency in May – which will include ending Title 42 – many members of Congress are attempting to declare a border-specific health crisis to justify continued rejection of asylum seekers. Several representatives continue to try to extend Title 42, further militarize border communities, and expand the immigration detention system.
“Every year, billions of dollars are funneled into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to Customs and Border Protection (CPB) to jail, abuse and deport immigrants,” said Kristin Kumpf, Director of Human Migration and Mobility at AFSC. “ICE and CBP have terrorized and surveilled communities, separated thousands of families, abused and neglected people in inhumane jails, and allowed hundreds of people to die in their custody. The same support seen for Ukrainians fleeing danger should be given to those from the Global South. This differential treatment only highlights the racism and xenophobia that drives our immigration enforcement policies.”
AFSC calls on Congress to restore the right to asylum, cut funding to ICE and CBP and to welcome every immigrant with programs grounded in communities.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.