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SPLC Responds to Vice President Harris: Seeking Asylum is a Fundamental Right

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sarah Rich, a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released the following statement responding to comments made by Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Seeking protection from violence and persecution is a fundamental human right, and the right to seek asylum is protected by U.S. and international law – rights that SPLC has been seeking to protect in our courts for years.  Vice President Kamala Harris recently issued a warning to potential migrants in Guatemala: “Do not come … if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
“These remarks fly in the face of the right to seek asylum in the U.S. and indicate a disturbing continuity between the Trump administration and the Biden-Harris administration.  The Vice President’s remarks ignore our country’s long history of meddling in Central America’s affairs and supporting right-wing governments that massacred their own citizens and embezzled public money. The SPLC represents asylum seekers, and we know that people who flee for the relative safety of the U.S. do so because they fear for their lives and time is not a luxury they can afford.
“SPLC has been litigating a case challenging turnbacks of asylum seekers at the southern border since the Trump Administration, and the court has already ruled that U.S. law mandates that immigration officers inspect and process all people arriving at ports of entry to seek asylum, rather than summarily turning them back. Vice President Harris’s public promise to turn back asylum seekers at the border ignores this legal obligation.
“Whether the Biden-Harris administration wants people to flee Central America or not, they will continue to do so, and the U.S. government should welcome them with humane policies that affirm their dignity and comply with the law. This administration promised a break from the racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant policies of President Trump and Stephen Miller — but where asylum is concerned, the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies are just more of the same. It is imperative that the Biden-Harris administration abandon the hateful anti-asylum policies of the prior administration and reaffirm its commitment to human rights."