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‘Arbitrary Cruelty of Our Current Asylum System’

June 13, 2023

Fernando Chang-Muy
Fernando Chang-Muy

“We cannot turn our backs on Central American immigrants at the border,” writes Adj. Prof. Fernando Chang-Muy.

At The Messenger, Fernando Chang-Muy, Thomas O’Boyle Adjunct Professor of Law, argues against a Biden administration policy that enforces “a process to ‘incentivize lawful entry’ and expeditiously remove individuals who, under current U.S. law, do not have a legal basis to remain.” 

Founding director of the Liberty Center for Survivors of Torture, Chang-Muy teaches “Refugee Law and Policy” at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Drawing upon his experience in law, refugee camp administration, and philanthropy, he builds capacity and increases effectiveness through consulting support, coaching, and training to government agencies, local and national philanthropic institutions, social service agencies, and cultural organizations.

Trevor Stankiewicz L'23 Trevor Stankiewicz L'23Trevor Stankiewicz L’23 contributed to this piece. Stankiewicz was recently awarded the Edwin C. Baker Award as the graduating student who completed the most cumulative pro bono hours. As a law student, Stankiewicz worked with both the International Human Rights Advocates (IHRA) and the International Refugee Assistance Program (IRAP). 

From The Messenger

Title 42, the pandemic public health restrictions that officials used to turn back migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, recently expired. Both Presidents Trump and Biden used the law to stop people from entering the U.S. at our southern border. Now, to minimize the potential for a flood of migrants, the Biden administration is enforcing a process to “incentivize lawful entry” and expeditiously remove individuals who, under current U.S. law, do not have a legal basis to remain.

This is wrong. The new approach exposes the arbitrary cruelty of our current asylum system, which will exclude people fleeing violence in countries such as Honduras.

In March, during a week-long law service trip, we visited Honduras to conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations to help individuals understand the constantly shifting landscape of immigration law. We wanted to let people know what to expect if they were thinking of applying for asylum in the United States. We wanted to explain to them the ramifications of the Title 42 expiration — that they face the possibility of detention or getting “paroled,” meaning temporarily allowed, in the U.S.

We explained that, in the absence of Title 42 and in anticipation of a surge of Central Americans at the U.S. border, the Biden administration was considering creating policies for people who might try to enter the U.S. without a visa (which many don’t have). These policies include reinstating detention of migrant families and having them apply for asylum first in countries they travel through. If that fails and they want to tell their story of persecution to U.S. authorities, they must have a scheduled appointment. These can be made using the CBP One app, but it often crashes… .

Read the full piece at The Messenger.