Various U.S. government policies – such as Title 42 – are still harming asylum-seeking children and families
Washington, D.C. (February 24, 2022) – Save the Children is pleased to join 25 organizations in releasing a new report, 2022 Immigration Priorities: A Blueprint for the Biden-Harris Administration. The blueprint reviews the actions undertaken by the Biden-Harris administration in 2021 and outlines the actions the administration needs to take in 2022 in order to fulfill its promise of a fairer and more humane immigration and asylum system.
The report found that, over the last year, the Biden-Harris administration notably rescinded President Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy that cruelly separated countless children from their parents, repealed the Muslim and African bans, ended the practice of holding undocumented migrant families in detention centers, withdrew the Trump administration’s attempt to terminate the long-standing Flores Settlement Agreement, and reinstated the expansion of the Central American Minors Program. The administration also attempted to terminate the Migrant Protection Protocols, increased the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S., and ensured safe treatment of unaccompanied minors and children.
“Save the Children was excited to take part in this important report, an opportunity – especially ahead of next week’s State of the Union address – to shed light on how the Biden-Harris administration’s policies have affected children and families seeking asylum and what the administration should prioritize moving forward,” said Santiago Mueckay, Advisor of Family and Child Migration at Save the Children. “Over the years, it has been deeply distressing to see children and families be some of the most egregiously impacted by this country’s immigration policies. While President Biden has made important strides towards fulfilling his campaign promise of a fairer, more humane immigration system, there is still a significant amount of work to be done to fully realize this vision.”
Recommended priorities for the Biden-Harris administration include:
Protection and Relief to Keep Immigrant Families Together
· Continue to support and promote a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants.
· Continue to take all necessary steps to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrant youth.
· End family separation and prevent it in the future. End policies that separate children from their parents, adult family members, and trusted caregivers. Require agencies to consider the “best interests of the child” in every decision.
· Reunify all children separated from their families by the previous administration, ensure they have access to services, and formally end family detention.
Routing Out Discrimination and Anti-Blackness in the Immigration System
· Review all immigration-related law, policy, practice, and processes to determine whether they disproportionately impact BIPOC communities, consistent with President Biden’s executive order on advancing racial equity.
Reducing Harm by Limiting Interior Enforcement and Improving Due Process Protections in Removal Proceedings
· Drastically reduce the use of detention and shut down the worst detention facilities in coordination with impacted families and local NGOs. End all contracts with private detention contractors, and robustly fund and shift from a detention model to a community-based case management program.
· Commit to providing legal counsel at no cost to every pro se individual and all vulnerable people, including unaccompanied children, people with a mental disability, and others who need legal support to ensure a fair hearing.
Restoring the Asylum System and Humanitarian Protection at the Border
· Terminate the Title 42 expulsions policy and the Migrant Protection Protocols and permanently reopen the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Ports of Entry to asylum seekers.
· Resettle 125,000 refugees in FY2022, consistent with the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions, and increase the Western Hemisphere regional allotment by adding at least 5,000 of the unassigned resettlement spots there.
· Improve asylum processes so that they are fair and timely.
Addressing the Root Causes of Migration and Promoting Regional Collaboration
· Take a whole-of-government approach to the region and pursue a hemispheric “Americas Migration Accord” built around a set of agreed-upon principles for regional responsibility sharing.
Save the Children – together with its political advocacy arm Save the Children Action Network – will continue to advocate on behalf of asylum-seeking children and families, shed light on their treacherous journeys and work with the Biden administration to ensure the aforementioned recommendations are prioritized.