As representatives of border communities which have witnessed and endured the harmful effects of the Trump administration’s cruelest policies against immigrants, the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) applauds the Biden administration on taking immediate action to reverse these policies and address ongoing suffering. In particular, we are encouraged to see the Biden administration’s commitment to helping families torn apart at the border through the creation of a task force dedicated to locating and reuniting more than 600 children with their parents.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of repealing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), we urge President Biden to take immediate action to increase our capacity and build the necessary infrastructure to process asylum claims, address the needs of families seeking safe haven at our borders, and help them fully integrate into our communities. This means hiring more asylum officers and immigration judges to hear their cases in a timely manner. It also requires a coordinated institutional response that brings together local, state and federal stakeholders to create welcoming centers for migrants arriving at our borders, and a significant and direct investment in core services such as housing, travel to reunite with their families, healthcare services including Covid-19 testing and vaccination, and more.
Additionally, while President Biden has signed an executive order to end the Department of Justice’s contracts with private prisons, this did not include private facilities detaining immigrants under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — many of which are still detaining migrant children. While we welcome the creation of a task force to reunite families, the reality is that until all detention facilities are closed, hundreds of families will remain separated.
We are encouraged to see the Biden administration’s commitment to helping families torn apart at the border through the creation of a task force dedicated to locating and reuniting more than 600 children with their parents.
Reversing the harmful policies implemented under the Trump administration is not nearly enough. As outlined in our letter with the New Ellis Island Border Policy Group to the President following his inauguration, our immigration system has been broken since well before Trump took office due to neglect by both parties over the past decade. We must not only rebuild our system for welcoming, which was torn down during the Trump administration, but enhance it.
In order to end this destructive cycle, we call on the Biden administration and Congress to pass comprehensive and inclusive immigration legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented; demilitarize our southern border; and implement oversight and accountability mechanisms over local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Rectifying past injustices will be an uphill battle, as seen through last week’s ruling by a federal judge to block the 100 day moratorium on deportations. However, if we truly want to live up to our nation’s ideals, we cannot simply return to the status-quo. BNHR will keep working to hold our representatives in government accountable and ensure that our communities’ priorities are addressed.
Fernando García, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR).
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