News » CGRS Urges Lawmakers to Reject Lankford-Sinema Bill

CGRS Urges Lawmakers to Reject Lankford-Sinema Bill

Help Defend Asylum

CGRS relies on the generous support of people like you to sustain our advocacy defending the human rights of refugees. Make a gift today!


Apr 08, 2022

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) denounces the bill introduced by Senators Kyrsten Sinema and James Lankford this week that could force the Biden administration to continue Title 42 expulsions of people seeking asylum. The bill would forbid the government from terminating Title 42 until it ends the emergency public health declaration that supports many vital COVID-19 measures. The Senators introduced the bill less than a week after the Biden administration’s announcement that it would be terminating the Title 42 policy on May 23, 2022. 

“The Lankford-Sinema bill is a shameful ploy to weaponize the COVID-19 pandemic against people seeking safety,” said CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey said today. “The bill would force the Biden administration to keep the deadly Title 42 policy in place, in violation of our laws and treaty obligations and in defiance of the CDC’s own scientific analysis. Advocates and border communities are ready to welcome people seeking asylum with dignity. Their congressional representatives should be standing with them, not taking radical steps to cement Stephen Miller’s racist legacy. Any lawmaker who professes to follow the science and honor the humanity of immigrants should wholeheartedly reject this bill.”  

The Title 42 policy was designed by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, who sought to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to shut the border to Black and brown people seeking asylum. Title 42 was forced into effect over objections by top CDC doctors, who recognized the policy as a cynical white nationalist maneuver. For over two years public health experts urged the government to terminate Title 42. Last week the CDC acknowledged that there is no public health justification for singling out asylum seekers and expelling them to danger. It is reprehensible that any senator would choose to ignore the science and support legislation that could jeopardize legitimate COVID-19 measures.

The Title 42 policy exposes people fleeing persecution to grave dangers. Human rights investigators have documented nearly 10,000 violent attacks against asylum seekers pushed back to Mexico during the Biden administration. Other asylum seekers have been expelled to the very countries they are fleeing. The policy has had a disparate impact on Black and LGBTQ+ people seeking safety, who are particularly vulnerable to harm. The Biden administration’s ongoing campaign of mass expulsions to Haiti has imperiled thousands, including children and infants. The administration is now exempting many white Ukrainians from Title 42, underscoring the racist and arbitrary nature of the policy. While we applaud the decision to allow Ukrainians to seek safety in the United States, as is their right, we insist that this opportunity be available to all asylum seekers. Lawmakers who regard themselves as champions of racial justice should be demanding an end to Title 42, not fighting to preserve it.