As the world struggles, clinging to every speckle of humanity, Donald Trump chose to slam the door on the most vulnerable. Asylum seekers at our border, who have a right to show up for safety as they exile persecution, violence and possibly death will be turned away without due process. The once greatest nation on earth, the United Sates of America ought to be fully capable of taking in every single asylum seeker, with adequate quarantine and isolation measures to honor our global commitment to humanity. Instead Trump is using the COVID-19 Pandemic as his tool of hate, seizing this as a political opportunity to carouse the base to a roar of xenophobic triumph- their perfect pitch:
I absolutely condemn this putrid and unconscionable policy changes announced today by Trump, as he shutsdown the U.S.-Mexico border and turns our backs on asylum seekers without due process.
So very shameful – in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis! The Trump Administration is once again choosing to scapegoat those fleeing persecution and escalate its attacks on their rights. This new policy is plainly illegal and will place vulnerable LGBTQI, women, children, and families directly in harm’s way.
Under both U.S. and international law, our government is required to provide asylum seekers with their right to present their claims and is forbidden to return them to the persecution.
As noted by CGRS Hastings:
“This fundamental responsibility to protect refugees does not disappear in the context of a global pandemic. Moreover, a policy of blanket turn-backs at the border poses serious risks of accelerating the spread of COVID-19 in Mexico and elsewhere in the region.
We urge the Trump Administration to adopt sensible measures at the border that respect the rights of refugees while continuing to protect public health. Asylum seekers should be expeditiously screened and referred to appropriate medical services where necessary. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should not detain arriving asylum seekers in densely populated facilities and should instead work with legal and social services organizations to facilitate safe transportation and housing for them in the United States, where they can practice social distancing and other recommended precautions.
There are additional actions that the Trump Administration can and should take to protect public health and ensure the safety of asylum seekers. CGRS urges the Administration to immediately end its illegal forced return policy, which has already endangered thousands, and work with humanitarian aid groups to parole in asylum seekers who have been subjected to it, prioritizing those who are medically vulnerable. DHS should also release those who are being needlessly jailed in immigration detention centers, where inadequacies in healthcare and unsanitary conditions have been well-documented. These sensible measures would help safeguard the health of not only asylum seekers, but also DHS personnel, judges, advocates, and their families.
“Asylum seekers arrive at our borders desperate to escape life-threatening violence in their home countries. Their journey to the United States is, unquestionably, ‘essential travel,’” CGRS Policy & Advocacy Director Kate Jastram said today. “We cannot allow the Trump Administration to use the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to continue trampling on the rights of asylum seekers. Doing so will endanger countless lives.”
I dedicate this Post to my Dad, of blessed memory:
On the Shabbos of the First Yartzheit, to the memory of my beloved Dad, a gentle man with a true heart – who always reached out with kindness to the most vulnerable among us.
In Memory of Arthur Nathan, 1930-2019. May his memory always be for a blessing: So dearly loved and so sorely missed.