News » Immigrant Advocates, Faith Leaders, Doctors Rally in San Francisco to End Title 42 Expulsions

Immigrant Advocates, Faith Leaders, Doctors Rally in San Francisco to End Title 42 Expulsions

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Mar 21, 2022

Watch a full livestream of the rally here.

Today a coalition of local immigrant and civil rights advocates, faith leaders, and public health practitioners rallied in San Francisco to demand the Biden administration end its racist and illegal Title 42 policy. On the policy’s two-year anniversary, Bay Area leaders stood in solidarity with migrant organizers in Nogales, Mexico as part of a national day of action with demonstrations occurring around the country.

Pressure is mounting for the Biden administration to end Title 42. In recent weeks, legions of public health experts, immigrant and civil rights leaders, and members of Congress have urged the administration to abandon the policy and establish a fair and humane asylum process at the southern border. Rumors are now swirling of deliberations within the administration on whether to terminate Title 42. At this pivotal moment, community members sent a clear message to the White House that the Bay Area is ready to welcome people seeking asylum.

“After I waited for weeks to seek asylum, the border was closed due to Title 42 and I was left stranded in Tijuana,” said Mohamed, an Ethiopian asylum seeker and research intern at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Being an immigrant in Tijuana isn’t easy, and being a Black immigrant is worse. You face constant racist harassment and violence by the police and cartels. You live every day full of uncertainty of whether you will be attacked or killed. I was one of the few lucky Black immigrants to get humanitarian parole, which allowed me to enter the United States. For those people who think that by just crossing the border we are guaranteed asylum and our problems are solved, you are wrong. It is the beginning of a long process that consumes years of our lives.”

“I fled my home in El Salvador, because there are so many kidnappings of women there and I was very scared,” said Cristina*, an asylum seeker and member of Mujeres Unidas y Activas. “When I arrived at the U.S. border in December, pregnant and very sick, border agents denied me medical help and sent me back to Mexico. There I was kidnapped by the police, who handed me over to a cartel. I was in captivity for a long time, and I nearly lost my life. Because of my experience, I am now calling on President Biden to end Title 42, so that no one else has to experience this, and every person who comes to the border has the opportunity to be heard and have their rights respected.”

“I continue to call for the termination of the former Trump administration’s unlawful Title 42 policy that has continued to endanger the lives of thousands of individuals seeking refuge at our borders,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. “While the Biden administration made the correct decision recently to end Title 42 for unaccompanied children, it is disappointing to see the administration maintain Title 42 for asylum seeking families. I’ll continue working with my colleagues in Congress to call for the end of this inhumane policy and work towards reinstating humanitarian protections for asylum seekers at the border.“

“Since its inception, Title 42 has been as illegal as it is cruel,” said Neela Chakravartula, Managing Attorney at CGRS. “Earlier this month, an appeals court handed down a decision in our class action lawsuit which affirmed what we know to be true: Expelling asylum seekers to places where they face persecution or torture violates our laws and treaty obligations. The Biden administration knows this. The administration also knows that every day Title 42 remains intact, Black and brown families, children, and adults are placed in harm’s way. Two years of Title 42 is two years too long. It is beyond time for the Biden administration to end its racist Title 42 policy, restart asylum at the border, and welcome all people seeking safety with dignity.”

“I regularly hear about the trauma, the harm that children and their families suffer because of Title 42,” said Dr. Raul Gutierrez, Pediatrics Co-Director of the UCSF Health and Human Rights Initiative. “Women are giving birth in Mexico without proper prenatal care. Parents are making the impossible decision to send kids to the U.S. alone to protect them from danger. I recently did medical evaluations, remotely, for two different families with children who are waiting in Mexico for entry. One girl was three years old. She had a severe skin condition that requires a skin specialist. She sat there with her mom scratching, fevers at night, and pleading to her mother for relief. But they currently live in a tent with poor sanitation and limited medical help. She is at risk of severe infection. Instead of treating this child and her family with compassion, the government is risking the loss of life of a child.”

“Title 42 is a policy based in systemic racism and a disregard for human life,” said Reverend Deborah Lee, Executive Director of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity. “It is leading to countless preventable deaths and suffering of children, adults, and vulnerable populations. We need an asylum system based on values of fairness, safety, and human rights - not on expulsions and immigrant detention. Faith communities across the country stand ready to welcome asylum seekers and immigrants, we ask our government to do the same.”

“The United States’ outpouring of sympathy for Ukrainian refugees is welcomed, but throws into sharp relief the disparate treatment of Black and brown refugees who have been harmed by the Title 42 policy for two years,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of CGRS. “We are so glad that our Ukrainian clients, a mother Sofiia and her three children, were able to exercise their right to seek asylum and find safety with family in the United States. However, we are dismayed that our Haitian clients, a mother Landy and her three children fleeing similar circumstances, cannot find the same protection. Without treatment for a severe skin infection, Landy’s youngest daughter could suffer lifelong consequences, or even death. Yet the U.S. government has denied the family a humanitarian exemption to Title 42. Whether an individual is from Haiti, Cameroon, El Salvador, or Ukraine, anyone who cannot safely return home should be afforded the same opportunity to seek asylum. We call on President Biden to end this racist Trump-era relic and establish a humane asylum process at the border.”

“The human costs of the Title 42 policy cannot be overstated,” said Emma Hyndman, student at UC Hastings and delegate of the Hastings to Haiti Partnership. “In Tijuana earlier this month, we met with over 100 Haitians who shared harrowing stories of the dangers they face in Haiti. An interpreter for the UN fled after witnessing gangs murder his colleagues. The cousin of slain President Jovenel Moïse was threatened after he was targeted by political opponents. A young woman fled after being repeatedly raped. Each of these human beings has the human right to seek asylum in the United States. But instead of recognizing the United States’ role in creating the conditions in Haiti that have forced these individuals to flee, the Biden administration is continuing the cruel, illegal, and racist policy of expelling them to their fates. This policy must end.”

*Name changed to protect anonymity