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UN refugee agency calls on US to end asylum restrictions

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The U.N. refugee agency has made an unusual plea for the Biden administration to lift pandemic-related restrictions on people seeking asylum in the United States

GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency made an unusual plea Thursday for the Biden administration to lift pandemic-related restrictions on people seeking asylum in the United States.

In a sharply worded statement, Grandi said denying rights to seek asylum and pushing people out of the country violates “core precepts” of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention and that the expulsions have had “serious humanitarian consequences in northern Mexico.”

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Grandi said protecting public health and the right to seek asylum are “fully compatible.”

“At the height of the public health emergency, many countries put in place protocols such as health screening, testing and quarantine measures, to simultaneously protect both public health and the right to seek asylum,” he said.

More than 60% of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s nearly 179,000 encounters with migrants on the Mexican border in April resulted in expulsions under Title 42, making it a cornerstone piece of the U.S. immigration system.

The Homeland Security Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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