John Oliver Takes Trump Asylum Policies to Task on 'Last Week Tonight'

John Oliver has covered U.S. immigration policy — and its related injustices — many times on Last Week Tonight. But this week, he chose to highlight the Trump administration’s aggressive stance toward asylum seekers and how it’s only gotten worse during the pandemic.

“The asylum process has never been easy, but this administration has made it absolute hell,” Oliver said. “Their policy of family separation caused widespread outrage, but they have done so much more than that.”

Beyond the well-known documentation of how difficult it is for migrants from Mexico and Central America to seek asylum in the U.S., Oliver pointed out that earlier this year, the executive branch chose to enact Title 42 as a measure of making that process even more difficult.

“That isn’t even an immigration law,” Oliver said. “It’s a provision that gives the government the broad power to act during a public health crisis. And the Trump administration is currently claiming that because of the pandemic, it gives them the authority to shut down the border to virtually all migrants.”

Beyond that, he added, the administration is claiming that Title 42 allows them to take asylum seekers who have already made it into the U.S. and expel them without due process.

“It is a transparent attempt to exploit this pandemic to do whatever they want with migrants,” Oliver stated, adding that Trump officials’ denial of the true purpose of Title 42 is untrustworthy.

He concluded that, although Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is far from a perfect solution to this issue — having served as Vice President under an administration that deported more people than any other before it — getting Trump out of office is a crucial first step in solving the asylum crisis.

“Obviously, Biden will have to do a lot more, and we will have to hold him to the promises he’s made,” Oliver noted. “But we can’t begin to fix the damage done by this administration until we replace the administration itself. If we even want a shot at change, it is on us to vote and then advocate like lives depend on it.”

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