Thursday May 23, 2024

Hateful vision

By Oscar Chacon
December 08, 2021

The immense horrors of the Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ program are well-documented: the murder, rape, torturing, and kidnapping of asylum seekers forced to wait for their US immigration court dates in Mexico border towns that rank among the world’s most violent.

The Biden administration officially ended ‘Remain in Mexico’ in June, but is now reinstating it under a court order. In one key area, Biden’s rebooted ‘Remain in Mexico’ is even more cruel, expanding the number of people who can be placed into the program, including Haitians and other Caribbean nations with majority Afro-descendant populations like Jamaica.

There was nothing in the court order that compelled this. This is deliberately stepping beyond what the courts are asking for, in order to subject Black and Brown asylum seekers to greater misery and supposedly “deter” them from fleeing – in the face of deep evidence that deterrence-based immigration policies don’t work.

Coupled with the administration’s recent decision to extend Title 42, the end result is that Trump’s hateful vision of US immigration policy lives on under Biden: a complete and ongoing shutdown of asylum at the southern border.

The Biden administration is dragging its heels and refusing to fully and swiftly do away with Trumpian border policies, because they are terrified of the political costs of images of disorder and suffering at the border. Immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees have been a blessing to the United States. But Biden isn’t implementing policies that reflect this reality; for the sake of political expediency, instead we are meting out punishment to those who need our compassion.

Those experiencing the disproportionate impact of these policies of punishment, over the past few decades, have been nationals from Mexico, Central American, and Caribbean nations. In other words, Black and Brown people. The majority of individuals enduring the brunt of these policies are people seeking protection at our border. As Biden continues to uphold illegal Trumpian policies that shift the US government’s asylum responsibilities to Mexico, the implicit intent seems to be to keep asylum seekers who are people of color out of sight and out mind. This is reprehensible.

Indeed, the resumption of ‘Remain in Mexico’ contributes to long-lasting damage to asylum norms. At a time of mass migration throughout the Americas due to climate change disasters and the economic impact of Covid-19, the Biden administration is moving to normalize the existence of miserable refugee camps and overflowing shelters along the US-Mexico border. Well-resourced countries like the US should be upholding international humanitarian protection standards, not passing off asylum seekers to its neighbors.

Excerpted: ‘Biden Is Upholding Trump's Hateful

Vision for the Border’ Courtesy: