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We Need Your Outrage! Biden’s Asylum Ban Is Unjust and Inhumane

Silence is complicity, which is why people need to speak out and organize, writes Bucks County immigrant rights activist Sue-Ann DiVito.
Image created by Yakira Teitel, Just Seeds Artist Cooperative.

The Biden administration is about to impose an asylum ban. By the fact that it is applicable to those requesting asylum at our southern border, it is unjust in nature by the disproportionate impact to those with brown and black skin. 

To many fleeing for their lives, the United States is a beacon of hope. Asylum is a legal right, nationally and internationally. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. This right can be traced directly to events of the Holocaust. Many countries were acutely aware that they had turned away Jewish refugees, likely condemning them to death. We should not be forcing asylum seekers to remain in countries unable to protect them.

This policy institutes the mandatory use of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection CBP One app to schedule an appointment to present at a point of entry. Nowhere in any national or international law is there a requirement to make an appointment to seek asylum, or be limited to where one presents to request asylum. Think about this: people fleeing for their safety need to first have an awareness of this requirement, and a smartphone (that is fully charged) with internet access, as well as technological literacy to use this app. The people I met in Matamoros living on the riverbank had no means to get electricity to charge a phone. Many had their phones or chargers stolen from them in their journey. The app does not have translations in all languages preventing many from utilizing it. And this is just the beginning of the challenge. 

The app is only open for a small window of time early in the morning. Access to the app itself requires first signing up for an account, then downloading the app. The app requires uploading of biometric data including photos. Imagine trying to do all that with limited wifi and a limited time window-all while trying to simply stay alive. It has been reported that the cartel is charging migrants an exorbitant fee to enroll them in the app. Further, numerous studies have found that facial recognition technology misidentifies Black and Brown people more often than others. Such a mistake could affect the outcomes of asylum cases and send people back to harm. With so many problems, this should not be a requirement of access to asylum. 

READ: How Immigrant Rights Action Is Serving Bucks County’s Immigrant Community

Remember family separation? Did you know it is still happening, and it is going to get worse? Under the proposed policy, children are exempt from restrictions. Parents, desperate to protect their children, will send them to cross the border on their own. In fact, it has already started to happen. In anticipation of the increased number of unaccompanied children, the administration has begun to ask contractors for estimates on detention centers. We have a moral obligation to protect those seeking asylum in a way that keeps children safe, and families together and free.

Access to asylum should be open to all who need it as required by law. 

Amnesty International 1500 - Bucks County Beacon - We Need Your Outrage! Biden’s Asylum Ban Is Unjust and Inhumane

This policy would create permanent asylum bans for people who travel through other countries to get here and do not seek asylum there first; or who enter the U.S. without scheduling an appointment. Take a look at the State Department travel site. We are asking people who are already fleeing violence to stay in places that many government employees are prohibited from visiting due to the high rates of crime, kidnapping, rape and death. Just this week immigrants were shot and killed in the streets of Matamoros at the hands of the Cartel. People from Haiti and Venezuela were among the deceased.

Instead of asking every other country in the world to step up, we should be leading from a place of strength and compassion – living up to the idea people have in the U.S. to be a beacon of hope and opportunity. We have a responsibility (both moral and legal) to help humans seek safety and asylum. We need a system that is fair and equitable treating all with dignity and respect.

Please don’t stand by silently. Let’s stand with the most vulnerable members of society seeking their legal right to asylum. We must let our own leaders know when they get it wrong. Our silence is compliance and complicity. Prior to the previous administration, many (myself included), had no idea the history of unjust and inhumane immigration policies.We can no longer say we didn’t know. We know we must hold all legislators, regardless of party, to the same standards. 

What can you do? Contact your legislators to protect these human beings from unjust and inhumane treatment. Legislators need to hear from their constituents. If they don’t, they won’t believe this is an issue of importance to their voters. The question you must ask yourself is: what will you do? Will you share your outrage about inconsistent, unjust, and inhumane policies?

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Sue-Ann DiVito

Sue-Ann DiVito is a local REALTOR®, mother, grandmother, and political activist.

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