AILA Public Statements, Press Releases, Advocacy & Media

Biden Administration Continues Taking Necessary Steps to Bring Our Immigration and Asylum Policies Back in Line with Our Values, However More Needs to

2/2/21 AILA Doc. No. 21020200. Admissions & Border, Asylum

Washington, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed additional actions taken by the Biden administration this week that will continue to ameliorate the damage done over the past four years and move our immigration and asylum policies toward fairness and justice, however leaders cautioned that much more needs to be done.

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson stated, “These changes are important, as is the effort the administration is undertaking to reunite the families separated by the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, a policy already rolled back by the new administration. However, a glaring missing piece is the failure of the Biden administration to immediately rescind the nonimmigrant and immigrant visa bans. Maintaining these bans, which the previous administration falsely justified on the premise of protecting the labor market, directly undermines the Biden administration’s efforts to rescind discriminatory travel bans and reunite families who remain separated. The consequences to this inaction are severe, as every day the visa bans remain in place runs out the clock for individuals who have won the diversity lottery and may never be able to fulfill their American dreams. The damage done by these bans to our legal immigration system is very real, and the fact that the Biden administration has not made this right is deeply disappointing. The world remains in the grip of a pandemic, but our immigration policy must be fairer and more just in order to ensure a brighter and more prosperous future.”

AILA President Jennifer Minear described several of the executive actions and their importance, noting, “It is heartening to see steps being taken to undo the so-called ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (MPP) which kept tens of thousands of asylum seekers trapped in Mexico rather than allowing them a meaningful chance to claim asylum as our laws require. President Biden is also seeking to address the root causes forcing people to flee their homes in Central America, bolster asylum protections in the region generally, and restore a program that allowed for certain children in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to apply in-country to safely reunite with family in the United States rather than braving a dangerous journey to the U.S. border. Unwinding the harmful policies of the past will take time, but people who need immediate humanitarian protection cannot be kept waiting any longer while their lives hang in the balance. In particular, we urge the president to halt the use of the Centers for Disease Control order – which was issued on the baseless pretext of protecting public health and is resulting in the blocking and expulsion of asylum seekers, including recent deportations of asylum seekers from many African nations.”

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.