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Biden Border Expulsions Continue to Harm Asylum Seekers

Delayed Reforms Endanger LGBT, Black, Other Adults Traveling Alone

Honduran men cross into the United States to begin the asylum process Monday, July 5, 2021, in Tijuana, Mexico. The administration of President Joe Biden continues to turn away thousands of asylum seekers under the illegal and discriminatory Title 42 summary expulsion policy. © 2021 Gregory Bull/AP Photo

“The officials didn’t let me tell them anything. They just sent me back.”

That’s what “Dolores,” an asylum seeker in Mexico, told me after United States Border Patrol agents expelled her under the illegal and discriminatory Title 42 border expulsion policy. Dolores fled Honduras after gang members killed her parents and threatened to murder her. On her first trip through Mexico, she was kidnapped for ransom, raped, and beaten. After Border Patrol agents expelled her, she was kidnapped again.

New reporting suggests President Joe Biden’s administration may continue to keep in place the abusive policy adopted by the administration of former President Donald Trump, continuing to rely on false claims that the policy exists for public health reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) improperly issued the order under political pressure. Public health experts have also condemned the policy.

While hundreds of thousands of people cross the border every day with no health screenings, asylum seekers like Dolores will continue to be expelled as long as the CDC order remains in place.

Previous reporting suggested the administration planned to officially exempt families, which it has lately done in most cases, while continuing to expel adults traveling without children. Human Rights Watch has warned this would not adequately address the abuses associated with summary expulsion.

Adult asylum seekers also flee persecution in their country of origin and face risks traveling through Mexico from criminal operatives and Mexican authorities.

Some single adults, such as asylum seekers with disabilities or chronic health conditions, or asylum seekers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), Black, or Indigenous, may face even greater risks and discrimination.

“Mario,” a Black, gay asylum seeker told me a Mexican police officer sexually assaulted him, and employers subjected him to slurs based on both his race and sexual orientation.

“Ricardo,” an asylum seeker who has been disowned by his family based on his presumed sexual orientation, said a group of men raped him twice in Mexico, after which he was diagnosed with HIV. Hospital workers subsequently denied him adequate treatment.

Leaving the Title 42 expulsion policy in place means continuing to put people like Dolores, Mario, and Ricardo at risk.

The CDC should immediately rescind the Title 42 expulsion order in its entirety to stop further endangering people’s lives.

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