The Biden administration has continued to refuse to outright terminate the Stephen Miller-pushed order that has used the novel coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to quickly deport hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers. But in negotiations stemming from litigation launched by the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) over the Title 42 policy, the organization said the administration has agreed to a number of new concessions, including to process up to 250 vulnerable asylum-seekers daily.
“Last week, CBS News reported that U.S. officials had stopped the practice of flying migrant families encountered in south Texas hundreds of miles away to El Paso or San Diego for the purpose of expelling them to Mexico,” Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported. The process has cruelly stranded asylum-seekers in unfamiliar and dangerous areas. ACLU lead attorney Lee Gelernt told CBS News that the administration has made that suspension official, but warned it may still restart them “if it deems the circumstances warrant,” CBS News continued.
The Los Angeles Times reported that among the asylum-seekers stranded in Mexico under Title 42 were Maria and her 3-year-old daughter, who after after asking for protection in Texas were told by officials that they would be sent to another state for further processing. Maria had no reason to doubt otherwise. But she told the LA Times that when she got off the bus, she found officials had sent her to Tijuana, 1,500 miles away from where she’d arrived to the U.S. “I was only told that I was going to another state, where I was going to apply for asylum, and they didn’t tell me any more than that,” she said in the report. “This is traumatic that they do this to us.”
The concessions from the Biden administration are a start, but they don’t change the fact that the Title 42 policy shouldn’t be in place, period. Since its implementation last year, more than 600,000 asylum-seekers have been quickly deported and blocked from their right to ask for humanitarian protections. The LA Times reported that more than half of these deportations have been carried out under the Biden administration. While President Joe Biden after taking office began to roll back Remain in Mexico, another despicable anti-asylum policy, Title 42 has remained in place despite condemnation from legislators and advocates alike. Under the policy, more Haitians have been deported in the first months of the Biden administration than the previous administration carried in a whole year.
“What gave Donald Trump his wall was Title 42,” Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia told The Guardian in March. “That has been incredibly more effective than any physical barrier. This was never about the pandemic to begin with. This was precisely about border enforcement.”
“The use of Title 42 is not a source of pleasure, but rather frankly, a source of pain,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently said, the LA Times reported. “There is no intention to use the CDC’s Title 42 authority a day longer than the public health imperative requires.” But as dozens of House Democrats noted in calling on the Biden administration to end the policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had initially refused to comply with the previous administration’s “demands to effectively eliminate access at the border to our asylum system via emergency powers because they saw no valid public health justification.” The policy was eventually implemented under bullying from Miller and former Vice President Mike Pence.
“Leading public health experts, physicians, and epidemiologists have repeatedly condemned this policy as xenophobic, cruel, and unlawful,” Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine medical student Divya Manoharan and immigration attorney Hope Frye wrote for Foreign Policy. “There is strong agreement it is without scientific basis and serves no public health interest. Title 42 is not only unjustified, but it is also unlawful. In its legal guidance, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned against enacting policies that prevent people from seeking asylum in reaction to the pandemic.”
“The Biden administration has offered little in the way of justification for keeping the policy in place,” Vox reported. The ACLU has paused its litigation over the policy in order to win more immediate concessions for vulnerable people, CBS News continued. “The suspension has been extended multiple times to give the parties more time to negotiate, but Gelernt said the ACLU's position is that Title 42 should be dismantled in its entirety. ‘While these concessions will hopefully save lives, they are not a substitute for eliminating Title 42 and restoring asylum processing fully,’ Gelernt told CBS News.’”