Washington, DC — In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing a new order to terminate Title 42 with delayed implementation starting May 23, Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:
“From the moment the Trump administration implemented Title 42, a border closure and expulsion policy, the racist underpinnings driving it were clear: use the pandemic to deny Black and brown migrants the opportunity to seek safety and protection in the United States. Title 42 should never have been implemented —full stop— and the Biden administration’s continuation of the policy up until this point has been shameful. Public health experts have repeatedly expressed that there is no justification for Title 42 and that closing the border is not a necessary public health measure.
It’s long past time for the Biden administration to fully restore access to asylum at our borders and ports of entry without the use of immigration detention, including detention by another name—Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “alternatives to detention.” As an enforcement agency these ICE “alternatives” such as ankle monitors, smartphone apps, house arrest, curfews, and other harmful surveillance methods restrict freedom of movement, cause physical and psychological trauma, and have not resulted in fewer people in detention to date. Any increase in the number of people in ICE custody or surveillance will be wholly unacceptable.
The administration should end Title 42 without relying on immigration detention and surveillance. Every person should have the right to move and live freely, without fear of being separated from their loved ones or displaced from their home.
The vast majority of immigrants, including people seeking asylum, already have ties in the United States—people to care for and help them as they pursue their immigration case. For those without support structures in place, community groups and advocates in the border region have been coordinating resources to welcome migrants arriving to the U.S. for years. Communities are prepared to welcome new members and respond.
Fairness, freedom, and opportunity should be at the core of our immigration system, but our existing system does not uphold these values. Instead, people are separated from their loved ones, deprived of their liberty, and lives are put in jeopardy by punitive border policies and inhumane immigration detention. This system relies on deterrence and incarceration to punish people for migration. With this announcement, we demand the Biden administration implement border policies that decriminalize migration, defund immigration enforcement, shut down detention centers, and restore access to asylum without the use of immigration detention. Immigration detention is a fundamentally flawed and inhumane system that must be abolished.”
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.