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"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - MLK 

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Title 42 was lifted last week. What’s happening now?

May 18, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The Asylum Ban that went into effect May 11 has two components: a transit ban and an entry ban. 

  • The transit ban is essentially identical to those put in place by President Trump, which courts deemed illegal. It bars access to asylum for anyone who passed through another country on their way to the U.S. and did not request and get denied asylum there first.
  • The entry ban bars access to asylum for people who enter the U.S. between ports of entry, despite this being a legal way to reach U.S. territory to seek protection.
Who does the ban apply to? 

The ban applies to anyone who has passed through a third country on their way to the U.S. unless they present at the port of entry at an appointment scheduled through the CBPOne app. It can apply to anyone, but is likely to inflict disproportionate suffering on Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and disabled folks, as well as pregnant people and families fleeing persecution. It also applies to anyone who crosses the border between ports of entry.

What is the CBPOne app? 

The CBPOne app is the only way that people can access the asylum process now that Title 42 is lifted. It is a phone app people must use to schedule an appointment to present at a port of entry to begin the asylum process. 

However, any system that relies on an app to determine who has access to asylum and who doesn’t is inherently unfair and discriminatory. To get an appointment, one must have a strong, reliable internet connection; access to and be able to navigate a smartphone; be able not only to read, but to do so in one of the only four languages the app offers: English, Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, or Russian. They also must be lucky; there are exponentially more people seeking appointments than there are appointments available. It’s like trying to buy the winning lottery ticket, except it’s for your chance at life-saving protections. 

How are some groups responding?

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project  (FIRRP) provides free legal and social services to detained adults and children. They have a Border Action Team on the ground in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to help people understand the new band. The FIRRP Communications Team partnered with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) and Welcome with Dignity to create resources to help migrants navigate interactions with the media so that people awaiting entry who are approached by reporters know their rights and how to protect themselves if sharing their stories. 

Sister Eileen Mahony, CSA, a volunteer aiding asylum seekers (guests) at Casa Alitas in Tucson, reports her firsthand experience, stating that, "on Friday, the day after Title 42 was lifted, 1,300 guests were received. On Tuesday, the 16th, 1,474 guests were received. Both days some were transferred to shelters in Phoenix due to the numbers. None have been “street released” to fend for themselves, something Casa Alitas aims to avoid. It should be noted that Casa Alitas only receives asylum-seekers who are accepted by Border Patrol. Many seekers are denied entrance due to the rules of the new ban."

Sister Eileen further describes, “the majority (approximately 60%) are still single males from India speaking Punjabi or Hindi. The second largest group which is anticipated to grow from its current approximately 20% is from Mauritania in northwest Africa speaking either Arabic or French. Today about 20% were Spanish-speaking families with young children from Chiapas, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia or Brazil. The volunteers and staff are best able to communicate with the Latin Americans. (For me this is a joy!)

"After being welcomed they are given water and food. Then they are Covid-screend or tested. Next they go through an intake (registration) process. Those individuals and their families who test Covid positive go to a waiting area to spend their quarantine in a special hotel. Those Covid negative enter the welcome center and begin to contact their families or sponsors.  Those who make same-day flight arrangements go directly to the airport. Those waiting to travel in 1-3 days stay at one of Casa Alitas' shelters.  Single males stay in the center of the current welcome center which has 300+ cots.  Families or single women go to one of the hotels. All these sites have staff to assist the guests with food, clothing, travel plans. The current large welcome center has special services including medical (in which I serve), support for victims of violence, and persons speaking indigenous languages.

"Most of the guests are quite overwhelmed when they arrive but fairly quickly begin to relax after speaking with their families and receiving support and services at Casa Alitas.

"To serve this group is both a challenge and a blessing. To repeat, all these guests have official immigration papers allowing them to enter the US and begin their asylum process.”

What can I do? 
  • Call your Senators, Representatives, and State Legislators. Make sure they know that protecting asylum seekers and immigrants is important to you. Ask them to focus on building a humane, fair, and dignified asylum system and to oppose Senate Bill 1473 and any other legislation that would end asylum as we know it.
  • Talk to your friends and family about this damaging rule. It betrays core American values: freedom and safety from persecution, welcoming those who seek protection, and the belief that immigrants make our country better.
  • Volunteer and donate to organizations working directly at the border, including:
Invitation Only