People of faith urge U.S. to end ‘harmful’ expulsion of Venezuelan asylum seekers
United Church of Christ policy experts, ministers and congregations were among the signers of an Oct. 25 letter calling on the Biden administration to reverse a recent policy decision about asylum seekers.
Responding to an influx of asylum seekers from Venezuela, the administration announced Oct. 12 that it would let 24,000 of them cross the southern U.S. border and send the rest back to Mexico. To carry out the expulsions, it is invoking an immigration rule, Title 42.
Title 42 is a public health order that blocks migrants at the border from seeking asylum. The Trump Administration created it in 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Circulated by Church World Service, the letter — signed by some 320 faith leaders and 100 religious organizations — was addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. It said the newly announced policy “undermines international and U.S. law by blocking asylum access and sending people directly into harmful and dangerous conditions.”
CWS included signatures received by an Oct. 21 deadline it had set.
‘A tragic mistake’
One of the letter’s endorsers is the Rev. Noel Andersen, coordinator of the UCC National Collaborative on Immigration.
“Extending life-saving protections to some Venezuelans with ties to the United States is a welcome step forward and should be expanded to additional populations in need,” Andersen said. “However, expanding Title 42, a program that has proven discriminatory and has denied protections to hundreds of thousands under the false pretenses of public health, would be a tragic mistake.
“The legal right to seek asylum is a cornerstone of our nation. To deny or return individuals to the very danger they are fleeing runs contrary to our own asylum laws, and our moral obligation to humanitarian protection. Instead of expelling more populations under Title 42, we should instead focus on building humane infrastructure to welcome asylum seekers and ensure they can receive the services they need.
“Faith communities across the nation have had a critical role in sending volunteers to support [immigrants] and opening our doors. By signing this letter we can ensure that our prophetic voice is lifted up to the Biden administration, that we need to end Title 42 as soon as possible.”
This article was updated on Oct. 26, 2022, with information on its signers.
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