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AILA Welcomes Biden-Harris Administration Commitment to Fair and Humane Treatment of Migrants in the Americas Region

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed reports that President-elect Biden is committed to following through on campaign pledges which will help ensure our immigration system and asylum process become fairer and more just. This week, the incoming president’s team reiterated to press and the public that they will implement a 100-day freeze on deportations, end the travel ban from 13 countries, limit immigration arrests, increase the numbers of refugees resettled in the United States, increase protection and aid in the Americas region, and remove devastating restrictions blocking protection for asylum-seekers.

Jennifer Minear, AILA President, noted, “President-Elect Biden is recommitting to his pledge to protect asylum seekers even while acknowledging restoring U.S. humanitarian protection systems cannot happen overnight, particularly during the pandemic. While completely ending the ‘Remain in Mexico’ and so-called ‘safe-third-country’ policies and establishing a fair and thorough process to review the cases of migrants at the southern U.S. border will take time, the Biden administration must make every effort to protect people fleeing from persecution whose lives literally hang in the balance.”

Ben Johnson, AILA Executive Director agreed, saying "The Trump administration weaponized bureaucracy against the most vulnerable: those seeking protection from persecution. The policies they put in place harmed immigrants, families, and undermined American values. They dug a deep hole during four long years and it will take resources and dedication to climb back out and move America forward on a better path. AILA has offered a roadmap toward a more welcoming nation and we will work with the Biden administration to see that vision become a reality.”

Among the plans shared this week by the President-elect’s team included the use of asylum officers to review asylum petitions rather than immigration judges, a move for which AILA has long advocated. Reversing the Trump-era policies which block protection for victims of gang and domestic violence is also vital and it is encouraging that those changes will be made in tandem with offering resources and aid to countries to alleviate “push factors” such as gang violence and threats to loved ones.

AILA’s vision also calls on the administration to release asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border rather than using inhumane and costly detention facilities, which have become deadly petri dishes during COVID-19. AILA is encouraged that the Biden team is exploring the expansion of community-based case management methods that are efficient, effective, and far more humane than detention.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20122317.