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September 23, 2021

The Biden Administration Must Uphold the Right of Migrants to Seek Refuge With Dignity

We join a growing chorus of voices outraged by the Administration’s decision to expel Haitian migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
-Article 14, Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

Today we join a growing chorus of voices outraged by the Biden Administration’s decision to expel Haitian migrants seeking asylum and more specifically, the inhumane and cruel treatment of Haitian migrants by the U.S. border patrol in Texas. The right to seek asylum is not only a human right, it’s a right granted by both international and U.S. law. These actions also call into question the Biden Administration’s stated commitment to center human rights. It’s not enough to say, “this is not who we are.” We must demonstrate who we are through our policies and actions.

We also cannot ignore how the images of border patrol agents on horseback rounding up Black people speak to America’s shameful history of racism and police brutality against communities of color, a history this country must come to terms with.

Over and over in our work to support peacebuilding and end exploitation, we see dehumanizing acts of physical, emotional, and social violence inflicted upon migrant communities. As people around the world are increasingly fleeing their homes due to conflict, climate change, political instability, food scarcity, and poor health systems these moments remind us of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ wise words: “We can’t deter people fleeing for their lives. They will come. The choice we have is how well we manage their arrival, and how humanely.” 

We recognize that the Biden Administration faces many complex crises, yet the Administration must uphold the human dignity of migrants and their right to seek refuge. We call on the Administration to actively address the root causes leading to the patterns of migration we see today and in the meantime provide migrants with the due process they are entitled to receive. 

We all have a duty to stand up to protect human rights and dignity when they are violated.

Cover image by Felix Marquez, The Associated Press

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