Seeking asylum, and the right to safe, dignified and orderly treatment for all at the border, are enshrined in international and federal law which the U.S. Government must unequivocally uphold. The Biden Administration’s newly implemented measures to replace Title 42 threaten these basic rights while doing nothing to alleviate the root causes of mobility, or the United States’ broken migration system.
The new asylum application system relies on a mobile app, which often malfunctions, and assumes individuals have access to a cell phone and Wi-Fi. Funneling applications through an unreliable app can create weeks of delay to even make an appointment, further threatening the protection of people on the move as many are forced to wait in unsafe, and unsanitary conditions in Mexico’s overburdened border towns. An appointment through the app as a prerequisite for claiming asylum is counter to U.S. and international law, as are the new policies which limit the eligibility criteria for asylum seekers based on how the asylum seeker crossed the border and how many countries they passed through prior to reaching the United States.
The new policies also ignore the reality that people leave home through deadly passages when their basic needs for safety are not met. In sum, these measures perpetuate confusing and onerous conditions for people pursuing their legal rights at the border and demonstrate how dysfunctional immigration policies harm families, children, and others seeking a safe, dignified life.
Upholding people’s right to seek asylum requires a consistent and efficient system of migration and asylum processing, combined with humane reception conditions, as well as durable solutions to displacement that uphold the self-determination of affected populations. For those who face specific risks or challenges due to their age, gender, ethnicity, health, disability or sexual orientation, focused interventions are needed to ensure their specific needs are met at reception and processing sites.
Across the region, CARE provides humanitarian assistance to people on the move and to vulnerable communities, with a strong focus on protection. One mother told CARE Guatemala that she fled war-like conditions in her home country and is only seeking safe work and a future for her children. Her wish is echoed by many who have been forced to leave home, including the increasing numbers of women and girls making the perilous journey. Cases of gender-based violence continue to reach alarming levels in the region, and survivors often have few places to turn – in 2022, the impunity rate for femicides in Honduras was 95%. “A lot of women and girls in Honduras are fleeing from extreme violence and poverty, but even when they leave home in search of safety, those same risks persist or worsen,” said Maite Matheu, CARE Honduras Country Director.
The current situation is a symptom of a broken migration system. Every day without a fair, safe, and efficient migration system puts all people on the move, including asylum seekers, at risk. At a time when displacement worldwide is rising, better migration systems, coupled with investments in inclusive economic development, governance, and gender equality cannot wait.
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