Asylum ban, deterrence policies will punish children

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2023 —Today marks the end of the Title 42 policy, put in place by the Trump Administration under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the end of Title 42, First Focus on Children President Bruce Lesley released the follow statement:

“For more than three years, First Focus on Children has decried the use of Title 42 as a false pretext to turn away children and families seeking safety at our border. This policy never had anything to do with public health, and indiscriminately returned children and families to danger. Thousands of children, including infants and toddlers, were rejected at our border without a fair opportunity to claim protection from persecution, torture, or trafficking. We are glad that this policy ends today, but we mourn that children, families and individuals have been denied the promise of our nation’s asylum system for more than three years.

And that they will continue to be denied. Unfortunately, Title 42’s demise does not immediately restore a full and fair asylum system. The Biden Administration has sought to replace Title 42 with failed deterrence-based policies, including an asylum ban that will punish children. The Administration also plans to expand expedited processing at the border, which will deny children in families a fair chance to claim protection. Members of Congress are pushing border bills that would make harming children the law of the land. In fact, just as Title 42 ends today the House is expected to vote on a bill that would embrace bans, bars, and jails for children and families seeking safety. While the Biden Administration plans to expand refugee resettlement and parole, those steps cannot replace the legal right to seek asylum at our border.

As President Biden has said, this country can do big things. Many communities have already welcomed children and families seeking protection, and they will continue to welcome them. Three-fourths of Americans — regardless of political affiliation — agree that our country should provide asylum to people fleeing persecution and violence. The values of this American majority should be the guiding light for policymakers. When policies focus on children, as the American people believe all federal policies must, common-sense, workable solutions emerge to give all people a meaningful process to seek protection. We are eager to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to create border management solutions that are real and that protect children’s best interests by guarding their safety, family unity, and general well-being.”