In response to President Biden’s immigration policy announcement today, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) wishes we could commend the Administration on taking steps to resolve our burdened immigration system. However, we are instead expressing our disappointment that the Administration announced the continuance and expansion of Title 42, which increases the number of people coming to the border, and also proffered unlawful and cruel policies regarding asylum. Nowhere in the 1951 Refugee Convention, of which the United States is a signatory, does it say people must file for asylum in the first safe country they enter, and according to U.S. law, one must apply for U.S. asylum once on U.S. soil. Enforcement of these proposed policies will create confusion and danger and additional hardships for those whose lives are already at risk. Moreover, the request for people to make appointments to file for asylum is not realistic with the current under resourcing of pro and low bono immigration attorneys, and it leaves people languishing in dangerous towns and situations for even longer periods of time.
Additionally, choosing countries of origin that are currently in conflict and facing financial turmoil, such as Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti to require financial or personal connections in order to come to the U.S. is putting a price on freedom and safety. This is just another example of our failure to support individuals from these countries. Neither a person’s nationality nor their financial or personal networks should be the basis of who can find safety in America. Further, as also seen with the failure to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, parole is just a band aid to kick the can down the line and doesn’t offer any real or permanent security to those legally seeking a new life in the United States.
While we applaud the increase of refugee acceptance numbers for several countries for FY23 and FY24, we hope the Administration follows through on admitting that many people, otherwise, it’s just lip service. Proposing these unjust, unlawful and somewhat impulsive and reflexive policies will create even more devastating and desperate results for people fleeing for safety around the world.