The U.S. Immigration Hub held a press conference Friday with California Sen. Alex Padilla and prominent immigration advocates to call on the Biden administration to strengthen protections for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The conference followed the Biden administration’s announcement February 2023 of its plans to instate a federal measure proposal to deny asylum to undocumented immigrants at the southern border. This measure will be implemented as soon as Title 42, a Trump-era policy implemented to also restrict and deny passage for undocumented people citing concerns over COVID-19 transmission, is set to end May 2023.
“I’ve been in touch with the Biden administration to express my concerns and we all understand the need to come together around (a) real, thoughtful, comprehensive plan for when Title 42 comes to an end in May,” said Sen. Padilla in the press conference. “But the inhumane practice of locking up families and traumatizing children, is not the answer.”
Kenny Sandoval, vice president of campaigns and partnerships for Voto Latino, a grassroots Latine voting organization, alleged during the conference that Biden inherited a “damaged” and “cruel” regime of immigration policy, not only from the Trump administration, but also from decades of “inaction” from U.S. Congress.
Sergio Gonzales, executive director of the U.S. Immigration Hub, noted the stark difference between the handling of the Ukrainian refugee crisis in Europe versus the U.S.’s approach toward Latin American refugees fleeing persecution. He alleged that in comparison that Poland, a small country with “less” resources, has accepted “millions” of Ukrainian refugees since the onset of the war.
“Here on the Western Hemisphere, we have refugees arriving at our border because authoritarian strongman leaders in places like Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are inflicting violence on their own people, and these children, women, families are right on our border seeking safety because of the promise of America,” Gonzales said.
Jaime Rosas, one of the founders of Frontera, a campus student group advocating for solutions to the border crisis, mentioned how he witnessed discrimination against Haitian asylum seekers at the U.S. border firsthand.
Rosas also said he hopes to see the United States do more to support these groups, as they have done with European refugees.
“We saw it with Trump, like the narrative that he was pushing is that asylum seekers were not the best, were criminals and all that, when in reality it’s just people trying to live their normal lives,” Rosas said. “That’s still permeated into our current asylum seeking process and how people feel about asylum seekers from Central America and South America.”
The conference also highlighted the U.S. Immigration Hub’s 2023 blueprint, “Immigrant Priorities: A Blueprint for the Biden-Harris Administration” which outlines 2022 actions and provides policy guidelines for 2023’s list of priorities. This includes an approach to remove racial discrimination in the immigration system, suggestions on how to rebuild the economy while promoting safe migration and solutions to restore the asylum system.
The blueprint, which has been endorsed by more than 40 activist organizations, also calls on the Biden administration to extend Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure to countries in crisis.
It also calls for the reinstatement of these statutes for countries who had them revoked for “discriminatory reasons,” under the Trump administration, according to the blueprint.
“We understand that there are no easy solutions, there’s only difficult choices, but history looks kindly on leadership and decisions that are rooted in justice, humanity and strength,” Gonzales said.