News » CGRS Applauds Decision in Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas

CGRS Applauds Decision in Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas

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Sep 03, 2021

Today CGRS and the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign welcomed the recent decision by a California judge in Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas requiring DHS to uphold the right to seek asylum in the United States. Metering — or the practice of turning back asylum seekers and forcing them to wait to seek protection — has always been unconstitutional. While the campaign applauds the decision, many other policies such as MPP and the misuse of public health measures such as Title 42 must also be addressed to truly uphold asylum rights. 

“This ruling affirms what we know to be true: People fleeing persecution have a legal right to seek asylum at our border and to pursue their claims in safety,” said Kate Jastram, Policy and Advocacy Director at CGRS. “Any policy that deprives individuals of that right flies in the face of due process and our legal obligations to refugees. That includes ‘metering’ practices, expulsions under Title 42, and the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols. The Biden administration must summon the moral courage to reject these dangerous and illegal policies once and for all.”

“U.S. immigration policy has long discriminated against Haitians, from the U.S. Coast Guard’s interdiction of boats of asylum seekers who fled political persecutions, to imprisoning Haitian asylum seekers in Guantanamo Bay, to the creation of immigration prisons in 1981 to incarcerate Haitians who arrived on U.S. soil,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. “The metering policy started in 2016 to deny Haitians access to asylum in the United States. Only after testing these policies on Haitians, and then other Black immigrants, did the United States expand them to include all migrants. We are grateful that justice has prevailed and that the metering policy has been struck down. We congratulate Al Otro Lado, who has been fighting this policy since its implementation in 2016, as well as the legal teams at Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, American Immigration Council, and Mayer Brown LLP.  We urge the Biden Administration to restore the right to seek asylum by ending Title 42 and welcome people with dignity."

“Jesuit Refugee Service/USA welcomes a recent decision by a federal judge in California that the U.S. government practice of ‘metering,’ or denying migrants a chance to apply for asylum on the Mexican border until there is capacity to process claims, is unconstitutional,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “As efforts to weaken the U.S. asylum system, including reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols and enforcement of Title 42 continue, this good news reinforces that the U.S. has laws and systems in place for those seeking protection from violence and other threats through the asylum system and that those legal protections should be enforced.”

“Yesterday’s decision affirms that processing asylum seekers at ports of entry is not something that DHS can push off or deprioritize,” said Yael Schacher, Senior U.S. Advocate at Refugees International. “Too many asylum seekers have suffered because of policies that do just that. It’s time for the Biden administration to end pushbacks, returns, and expulsions and to treat all those seeking protection at our borders with the dignity they deserve.”

“Amnesty International has long known that metering is a dangerous policy that strips people seeking safety of their human right to seek asylum – particularly for Black immigrants,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “Metering began in 2016 as a direct response to Haitians seeking asylum at the southern border that was grounded in anti-Black racism and was a precursor to the anti-asylum policies we see today such as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico. Amnesty International USA celebrates with our colleagues at Al Otro Lado, and calls upon the Biden Administration to swiftly uphold the right to seek asylum by ending Title 42 expulsions, Remain in Mexico, metering, and any other policy that hinders the right to seek asylum.”

“When more people come to the border asking for protection, the American people have to rise to the occasion,” said Adam Isacson, Director for Defense Oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America. “U.S. law plainly states that people who fear to return to their countries are entitled to due process. That’s how a humane, well-managed border is supposed to work. Forcing people to wait for weeks, months, or longer in dangerous Mexican border cities violates that due process. That this litigation succeeded is fantastic news for human rights at the border. Congratulations to the dedicated, first-rate legal team of Al Otro Lado and partner organizations. WOLA is proud to be among the groups that submitted declarations in support.”

“This decision is a victory for thousands of children and families who were turned away when they came to our doorstep desperate for safety,” said Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together. “We applaud this step and the arduous work of advocates like Al Otro Lado, SPLC, and other advocates in fighting for justice and dignity in our asylum system.”

“CWS and member communions have long called for the end of the administration’s anti-asylum policies that close our doors on welcome. We applaud the court decision finding that the U.S. government’s turnbacks of asylum seekers arriving at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border was unlawful,” added Rev. Noel Andersen, CWS Director of Grassroots Organizing, “ We have long known that turning our backs on people fleeing violence and persecution is immoral and counter to our legal obligations. As a faith-based organization, we understand that we have a moral obligation to love our neighbors and ensure refuge for those seeking safety.”

“This ruling affirms that seeking asylum is, undeniably, a legal and human right and that the US government has violated the rights of asylum seekers by not processing them at ports of entry,” said Robyn Barnard, Senior Advocacy Counsel, Refugee Protection, at Human Rights First. “Far too many people seeking safety at America’s doorstep have been turned back to danger by the U.S. government’s cruel and illegal practice of ‘metering’ that started under the Obama administration, as well as by policies like Title 42 and the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols. In the face of this ruling, the Biden administration must reject these unlawful policies, and fulfill their legal and moral obligation to restart asylum at ports of entry.”

“We applaud the brave Black, Brown, and Indigenous asylum seekers and their advocates for fighting against the unlawful and discriminatory metering policy. This ruling lays bare a principle already enshrined in domestic and international law: there is no justification for turning away asylum seekers at the border,” said Azadeh Erfani, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “However, past administrations have pushed back tens of thousands of people seeking protection, under fabricated premises of capacity. We call on the Biden administration to facilitate the return of all individuals subjected to metering and build on this momentum to end other policies and practices that externalize asylum rights—including by terminating the unlawful Migrant Protection Protocols or ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ program and the use of summary expulsions under specious public health rationale.”

“Metering was an illegal and immoral policy,” said Andrew Geibel, Policy Counsel at HIAS. “It forced people to wait for months in danger and squalor before being allowed to apply to asylum. It led to the creation of at least one tent camp and port-specific lists where asylum seekers had to pay to be added to the queue. It also directly preceded harsher policies like ‘Remain in Mexico.’ We are pleased that the district court agrees that the program is unlawful, and we urge the administration to abandon current programs like Title 42 which deny people the right to seek asylum at the U.S. southern border.”

“Metering denied asylum-seeking families and individuals their right to seek protection and stranded them in squalid, dangerous conditions in Mexico for months or years, where they were vulnerable to kidnapping, sexual assault, and other violent attacks,” said Ursela Ojeda, policy advisor for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We welcome yesterday’s decision as a long-overdue and important victory recognizing the unequivocal rights of individuals arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to seek protection. The border must not be governed by illegal deterrence policies.  We urge the Biden administration not to appeal this decision and to immediately reopen ports of entry to those seeking protection and process individuals seeking asylum in accordance with the law.”