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Women’s Refugee Commission Applauds Court Decision on Turnbacks in AOL V. Mayorkas, Urges Biden Administration Not to Appeal Decision and to Restore Access to Asylum

Washington, D.C. — A judge in the U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of California, yesterday, declared unlawful the U.S. government’s practice of turning back individuals seeking protection at U.S. ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border, also known as “metering” or “queue management.” Though it originated under the Obama administration, metering was one of many policies the Trump administration used to deny access to asylum to those at the border, alongside the ill-named “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), the misuse of public health authority under “Title 42,” and many more, some of which continue today.

In response to the decision in Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas, Ursela Ojeda, policy advisor for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission issued the following statement:

“Over the past few years, the Women’s Refugee Commission has witnessed and documented the practice of illegally turning back people seeking asylum and the devastating impacts of metering across the U.S.-Mexico border. Metering denied asylum-seeking families and individuals their right to seek protection and stranded them in squalid, dangerous conditions in Mexico for months or years, where they were vulnerable to kidnapping, sexual assault, and other violent attacks.

“We welcome yesterday’s decision as a long-overdue and important victory recognizing the unequivocal rights of individuals arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to seek protection. We congratulate and extend our gratitude to the brave plaintiffs, attorneys, and advocates who worked tirelessly to achieve this result.

“Yesterday’s decision should serve as a critical turning point in shifting to a welcoming and dignified approach to processing those seeking protection at the border, one that finally upholds the rights to do so as guaranteed under U.S. laws. We strongly urge the Biden administration not to appeal this decision and to immediately reopen ports of entry to those seeking protection and process individuals seeking asylum.

“The border must not continue to be governed by cruel, illegal, and ineffective deterrence policies. ‘Metering’ is one of many illegal practices that denies the fundamental right to seek asylum. It is well past time for the Biden administration not only to comply with last night’s decision, but to stop turning back and expelling families and adults arriving to seek protection under the guise of public health and restore access to asylum, including at ports of entry. This ruling is an opportunity for the administration to change course and begin to live up to its promise to restore justice and humanity to the asylum system and welcome with dignity those seeking protection at our border.”