State Department and DHS Show Welcome Commitment to Addressing Hemisphere-Wide Refugee Crisis

April 27, 2023
Last modified: 
April 27, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, the Biden administration announced the establishment of refugee processing centers in Latin America. The announcement is a welcome development that acknowledges the expansion of access to humanitarian protections as an essential solution to a hemisphere-wide refugee crisis that has displaced over 20 million people.

Title 42—an obscure public health law that has allowed the United States to summarily expel asylum seekers under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic—is set to expire on May 11. The federal government’s plans to manage migration at the southern border after Title 42 ends have focused on restricting access to asylum. However, it also has worked to expand legal pathways such as parole—and now, expanded refugee resettlement.

The following statement is from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council:

“America’s commitment to human rights and humanitarian protection is essential to our standing in the world, and to global leadership in the 21st century. And yet, for too long, past administrations have failed to take a leadership role in our own hemisphere—and blamed people for trying to seek safety.

“The American Immigration Council applauds today's announcement by the Biden administration. Responding to a displacement crisis throughout the Western Hemisphere requires thinking beyond the U.S. border. Regional processing centers in Central and South America that can provide safe havens for migrants will reduce the pressure on the U.S. southern border, provide safer alternatives for migrants, and limit the power of smugglers and transnational criminal organizations.

“However, while refugee processing abroad is a crucial part of addressing the humanitarian needs caused by displacement, it cannot be the only measure. As the Biden administration prepares for the end of Title 42, it must ensure that asylum remains a valid option for those who are unable to access these new measures and rethink its plan to rapidly force migrants through critical asylum screenings while detained in Border Patrol custody without meaningful access to legal counsel.

“Today’s announcement is a reminder that addressing the ongoing challenges caused by migration requires thinking outside the ‘enforcement-only’ box. Immigration isn’t just about ‘homeland security’—it’s about American leadership and identity. The U.S. State Department must collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as international organizations and civil society, to make the Western Hemisphere safe for everyone. Good intentions must be matched with a commitment to provide staffing and resources. This effort won’t produce real results unless both departments take their responsibility seriously.”

The American Immigration Council has a range of research and other resources on asylum in the United States and refugee law and policy, including experts available to speak on encounters at the border, immigration policies at play at the U.S. southern border, the cost of immigration enforcement, and Biden’s approach to immigration enforcement.



For more information, contact:

 Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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