More than 60 House members are calling for a halt to the expulsions of asylum-seekers under a Stephen Miller-pushed order that the Biden administration has continued to largely keep in place. Under the policy, hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers have been expelled without due process, including dozens of Haitian children in recent weeks.
“In March, the Trump administration began misusing Title 42 to effectively shut down access to our asylum system. That practice has continued, and in the case of deportation flights to some countries, increased,” legislators tell Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas. “You have the power to halt these expulsions by repealing the Title 42 order, and you should use it as soon as practicable.”
“We write out of deep concern about continued Title 42 expulsions and deportations that have taken place in recent weeks, seemingly regardless of whether these migrants meet priorities for removals,” legislators write. “In many cases these deportees are families and children who likely pose no security threat. The Trump administration misused Title 42 to summarily expel hundreds of thousands of migrants while denying them due process and access to the asylum system in contravention of international legal obligations.”
Like legislators note, the Associated Press (AP) broke the story last October about how Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experts had initially refused to give in to a demand by the previous administration to use the pandemic as an excuse to block asylum-seekers at the southern border, saying there was no valid public health reason to do so. “Numerous public health experts have also called on the CDC to rescind the Title 42 order as it has ‘no scientific basis as a public health measure,’” legislator write. “And the experts at the CDC seem to agree.”
But refusing to back down from its racist agenda, the previous administration then bullied the CDC’s director, who gave in and signed it. “That was a Stephen Miller special,” a former Pence aide is quoted saying in the AP’s report. “He was all over that.” Yet the Biden administration has kept the policy largely in place (it has been excluding only children who arrive to the U.S. without their parents), with it recently harming Black immigrants in particular.
Haiti “is mired in severe economic, security, and constitutional crises, yet has received more than 900 migrants since February 1,” legislators led by Rep. Frederica Wilson, Gregory Meeks, Pramila Jayapal, and Bennie Thompson write. “This includes a recent February 8 flight in which 72 people were deported to Port au-Prince, including a two-month-old baby and 21 other children.”
The Biden administration has started taking important steps to begin restoring the nation’s asylum system, like welcoming to the U.S. families who have been stranded under the previous administration’s Remain in Mexico policy. Additionally, a federal judge also recently blocked the previous administration’s policy blocking Central Americans and other asylum-seekers who didn’t first ask for protections in a nation they traveled through before reaching the U.S.
But the previous administration’s effort to decimate the asylum system is still mostly in place because Title 42 is still largely in effect, and even though legislators say that “[l]eading public health experts have repeatedly made clear that by employing sensible, science-based public health measures the United States can safeguard public health and safely process people seeking protection at our border.”
In order to truly begin restoring our asylum system and giving families and fairer chance at safety, the policy needs to go.
“Mr. Secretary, the CDC order authorizing expulsions without due process under Title 42 was immoral and dangerous when issued and continues to put hundreds of thousands of people at risk,” legislators tell Mayorkas. “We urge you to safely and effectively end this practice as soon as practicable and to employ alternative forms of humanitarian relief for individuals subject to deportation until we have this virus under control.” Click here for a full list of letter signatories.