Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, California Rep. Judy Chu, Black-led organizations, and public health experts this week continued their calls urging the Biden administration to restore the asylum system by ending the scientifically unsound public health order used by two administrations now to quickly deport thousands of people seeking safety.
Title 42, implemented by the prior administration under pressure from noted white supremacist Stephen Miller and kept in place by the Biden administration, has inflicted disproportionate harm on Black asylum-seekers, including children. The need to end this policy is all the more pressing following events in Haiti, advocates said.
“We stand in solidarity with the Haitian people who are going through tremendous pain,” said Haitian Bridge Alliance Executive Director Guerline Jozef. “Two weeks ago, the Haitian President was assassinated in his home. Understanding the fear and concern the Haitian community at home and in the diaspora are experiencing, we ask for the immediate end to Title 42 to allow migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who are running for their lives to be able to get protection and be able to get safety.”
More than 130 organizations, including Haitian Bridge Alliance, have already called on the Biden administration to protect Haitian immigrants, writing that unjustly deporting asylum-seekers following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse “would be unconscionable and unlawful.” It would also be unconscionable to deport asylum-seekers under a policy implemented under order of a racist and that has no absolutely basis in science.
“As a practicing physician who tests and treats many patients who are infected with Covid, I know that the Title 42 ban on entry has no basis in science or public health,” Dr. Kate Sugarman said. Dr. Vinu Ilakkuvan of Public Health Awakened said that “[b]locking asylum-based entrance based on false public health claims builds from a long history in this country of scapegoating and targeting immigrant communities during pandemics and other crises by labeling them as carriers of disease.”
Both physicians urged the Biden administration to immediately end the policy, yet it’s reportedly rethinking a plan that would’ve phased out the policy by the end of the summer. “As we’ve said before, Title 42 is a public health authority, and that authority rests with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” NBC News reports a White House official said. “We’ll continue to defer to the public health experts on these decisions and don’t have a timeline to preview on specific plans on when Title 42 is no longer needed.”
But public health experts have already stated that. In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials at first refused to back the policy, but then did so under pressure from Miller and former Vice President Mike Pence.
“We must be decisive and unapologetic in our efforts to dismantle racist and discriminatory policies, Title 42 is no exception,” Pressley said. “Yet in the early days of the Biden administration, more Haitians were expelled than during all of fiscal year 2020.” That included deportation flights of children and their families. “We have the responsibility to change course,” Pressley continued. “That’s why in my capacity as co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus I’ve called on DHS Secretary Mayrokas to halt Title 42 expulsions of Haitian asylum seekers.” Chu said, “[t]he continued use of Title 42 is not helping our country fight this virus, and even worse, it’s actively hurting thousands of families, especially Black families.”
A number of Republican officials have despicably tried to blame migrants at the southern border for COVID-19 cases, but “newly-released data from one of the largest migrant shelters in South Texas not only conclusively disproves that claims, but also shows that 90% of migrants have voluntarily gotten a vaccine,” immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick recently said. By comparison, just 42% of Texans have been vaccinated, The Texas Tribune reported.
"President Biden has said time and again that his administration would be guided by science, yet medical experts have consistently rejected the idea that Title 42 is necessary to protect public health,” Oxfam America official Noah Gottschalk told NBC News. "Vaccines are readily available and effective against new variants of Covid. The country is opening back up. So, too, should our borders be open for people seeking asylum."