Urge President Biden to end Trump-era criminalization of asylum seekers

Urge President Biden to end Trump-era criminalization of asylum seekers

December 2, 2022
Signatures: 440Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Krisy Gashler

A recent New York Times article relates part of the story of Boris and Mariia, Russian dissidents who have actively opposed Vladimir Putin’s regime and his invasion of Ukraine. After increasing threats by Russian police, Mariia and Boris fled to the US and requested political asylum. They ended up at a private prison in Louisiana where they endured horrific mistreatment including medical neglect and torture, limited drinking water, and overcrowded and unsafe conditions. 

“Our case is not a special one,” Boris said. “We were lucky enough to break out of the walls of migration prisons and get publicity, but there are thousands of people of every skin color, gender, age, religious and political view suffering in ICE and private detention centers across America because of inaction, or the deliberate actions of organizations who will stop at nothing in pursuit of profit. None of these peaceful asylum seekers should be in prison.”

During the Trump administration, “ICE expanded the immigration detention system by over 50 percent, signing contracts to open over 40 new detention facilities. This expansion overwhelmingly benefitted private prison companies, which housed 91 percent of all people held in detention centers that opened during those years,” according to the ACLU. This needless and expensive expansion of immigrant detention costs taxpayers billions of dollars, enriches private prison operators like GEO Group, and destroys the lives of people who need help, not handcuffs.

Although President Biden has undone some of Trump’s most horrific attacks on immigrants, he has continued his criminalization of asylum seeking. There is a better way, and Biden knows it – during the final years of the Obama administration, the US government implemented the “Family Case Management Program,” under which safely vetted asylum seekers were free to live in peace in communities while they awaited the outcome of their hearings – which frequently take months to years to be decided. The program “achieved a 99% compliance rate with ICE and immigration court requirements at a fraction of the cost of detention and supported hundreds of families in finding stability in their communities, [while] supporting them with their immigration requirements,” according to the Women’s Refugee Commission.

From a purely economic standpoint, it is ludicrous for our government to imprison asylum seekers: the Family Case Management program cost taxpayers just $36 per day per family, compared to $319 per day per person for detention. But this issue is not purely economic. It is also ethical: we are bankrupting ourselves, financially and morally, to maintain our xenophobic hatred of immigrants and refugees.

Please sign to urge President Biden to:

  1. End the criminalization of asylum-seeking.
  2. Reinstitute the Family Case Management Program.
  3. Cut all ties with private prison corporations, which have perverse incentives to imprison peaceful human beings, and have repeatedly violated basic norms of human rights
  4. Spend our money on more judges, not more prisons. No one benefits from the current system, except private prison operators.

In solidarity,

Mina Takahashi, Esther Lee, Sangeeta Pratap, Dan Gashler, and Krisy Gashler, on behalf of Delaware County Citizens for Refugee Support

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Signatures: 440Next Goal: 500
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