The United Nations is pressuring the United States and all other member countries to end pandemic-era policies that bar migrants from seeking asylum at their borders.
With three days until the Biden administration plans to lift the U.S. government's border restrictions, and a significant possibility that the federal courts block the White House's plan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees pleaded in a statement issued Friday that countries return to normal border practices.
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“I appeal to the states that continue to maintain these restrictions to lift them urgently, in order to enable people to seek safety and protection,” High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said in a statement. “I am worried that measures enacted on the pretext of responding to COVID-19 are being used as cover to exclude and deny asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution."
A federal judge promised to decide by May 23 whether he will allow the Biden administration to go forward with ending the use of a health policy known as Title 42, which was implemented in March 2020 and allows illegal immigrants who come across the border to be turned back and wait outside the U.S. It also bars the migrants from seeking asylum at the ports of entry, prompting many to cross between the ports knowing they will not be prosecuted despite multiple attempts.
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As of Friday, at least 20 countries continue to impose pandemic-based policies that do not allow noncitizens seeking refuge to do so. That number is down from 100 at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.