Biden decision to block asylum access at ports of entry caused hundreds of migrants to die, report finds

File. A Customs and Border Protection officer stands at the entrance to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, 2 March 2022, seen from Tijuana, Mexico (Associated Press)

Since Joe Biden decided to block asylum access at the US posts of entry, several hundreds of migrants have lost their lives, a new report has revealed.

The report says that for nearly two years, the Biden administration wielded the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy — a provision under the Public Health Service Act and initially invoked during Donald Trump’s presidency but kept in place under the Biden administration — to block people from seeking asylum at official ports of entry and claims that the “misuse of Title 42 has been a public health, border management and human rights issue”.

The report titled “Human Rights Stain, Public Health Farce” by Human Rights First organisation notes that since President Biden took place, “13,480 reports of murder, torture, kidnapping, rape, and other violent attacks on migrants and asylum seekers blocked in or expelled to Mexico under Title 42” have taken place.

It recommends that after “nearly two years in office, the Biden administration should institute a more effective and humanitarian response to the reception, identification, and processing of refugees seeking protection in the United States – a response that upholds US refugee and immigration laws.”

Julia Neusner, research and policy attorney with Human Rights First tweeted: “Migrants expelled to or stranded in Mexico bc [sic] of Title 42 continue to be targeted for horrific violence. Kidnappings, torture, extortion, rape. Often involving Mexican police or other govt [sic] officials. T42 leaves people seeking protection in a position of extreme vulnerability.”

She added: “By blocking asylum access at ports of entry, Title 42 forces people to undertake perilous crossings though sweltering deserts or dangerous oceans or rivers.”

She claims that at least 853 asylum seekers and migrants have died in border crossings this year alone —- making it the deadliest year on record.

Meanwhile, the report also notes that the Biden administration’s expansion of Title 42 to Venezuelans in October this year has “denied thousands access to the US asylum process in flagrant violation of US refugee law”.

It states that the “expansion has stranded adults, families, and children in dangerous Mexican border cities where they are targets of kidnapping, torture, and brutal attacks. It has subjected others to onward refoulement to persecution and torture. It has also separated many families”.

The Title 42 policy has “continued to inflict disorder at the border, triggering multiple border crossings, artificially inflating CBP border statistics, pushing dangerous crossings away from ports of entry, and facilitating exploitation”, the report states.

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