Maryknoll Missioners respond to the end of Title 42 and the asylum restrictions that take its place.
May 5, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC – Maryknoll missioners serving migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border are dismayed that, with the end of Title 42 today, the Biden administration has announced plans to replace it with even greater restrictions on asylum. The right to seek asylum is a moral value that the United States enshrined into law after lessons learned in World War II, when millions of people who were forced to flee persecution desperately needed protection. We oppose any restrictions that inhibit the right to seek asylum. The United States must instead work to build a safe, orderly, and humane asylum process that protects and welcomes asylum-seekers.
Maryknoll Lay Missioners stationed in El Paso, such as Director of Mission Elvira Ramirez, say the anxiety is palpable. “The stakes keep getting higher for migrants and asylum-seekers who already have risked everything to get to the Border.” Maryknoll missioner Deirdre Griffin, SSJ, says, “The lifting of Title 42 is long overdue. Rather than creating new forms of institutional violence that deny the suffering of our sisters and brothers (transit ban, heavy handed use of the expedited removal process, etc.), it is time to be honest about the humanitarian crises knocking on the doors of our southern border and to respond with the compassion of Christ.”
As Lay Missioner Heidi Cerneka notes, “the recent proposed asylum policy by the Administration seeks only to reduce the numbers at our border. It does not address people who have fled persecution in their countries of origin, nor does it consider our obligation to protect them.”
This is not a moral standard our country should accept. As Heidi Cerneka states, “As citizens of the United States, as global citizens, and as people of faith who defend human dignity and the sacredness of each person, we must ask critical questions and keep migrants, justice and life at the center of all we do.” Sister Lelia (Lil) Mattingly, M.M., writes “it is possible to organize an orderly entry to the U.S. for asylum-seekers. It was done for the Ukrainians.” She explained, “many of the asylum-seekers have family or sponsors in the U.S.” The United States has the capacity to process all cases, as well as provide shelter to immigrants on their ways to their final destinations.
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M., wrote, “Our moral integrity is rooted not in our ability to coerce but rather in how we treat the most vulnerable when we encounter them. I believe that as a country we can do better.”