By Darius Amiri | Rose Law Group Reporter
Title 42 is a US health code provision that was used by the CDC to prevent immigrants, mainly asylum seekers and refugees, from entering the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under Title 42, US immigration authorities have expelled would be migrants at the US Mexican border more than 2.8 million times.
The policy is set to expire at Midnight this Thursday, the reason being that the legal basis for Title 42 to expel migrants at the border is no longer justified after the Biden administration announced an end to the national COVID emergency, in addition to a multitude of lawsuits about the legality of Title 42 as a justification to restrict migration.
The anticipated effect of Title 42 ending can already be seen by a surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border. Apprehension numbers from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are climbing, footage of thousands of refugees lining up at ports of entry is being featured daily on news outlets, and there are reports that close to 20K migrants are in CBP custody, which exceeds capacity by more than 200%. This number will only grow as Title 42 comes to an end.
What is the plan:
The Biden administration is proposing new regulations that would deny asylum to most migrants apprehended at the border if they passed through another country without seeking protection in that country or failed to use other pathways for asylum and entry to the US that the Biden administration had expanded while Title 42 was in place.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers will be temporarily assigned to deal with the surge, Immigration Judges from the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) will be reassigned to conduct expedited removal hearings, and the Pentagon has announced the deployment of 1500 troops to assist with patrolling the border.
If a migrant is still determined to be able to seek asylum after the implementation of the Biden administration’s proposed changes, they still face challenging legal hurdles. They must pass a credible fear interview with an asylum officer, then file an application with an immigration judge, and in most cases do all this while being detained in an immigration detention facility with no constitutional right to legal representation. In some cases, if the migrant has family in the United States who can support them and ensure their compliance through the legal process, the migrant may qualify to bond out of immigration detention or qualify for a release under an order of supervision by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) through a process known as humanitarian parole.
In addition to the Biden administration’s attempt to restrict asylum and add resources to address the anticipated surge as Title 42 winds down, state authorities are beginning to respond on their own. Examples include the transport through plane or bus of migrants from Border towns to more populated and often differently politically aligned cities, governors deploying National Guard forces to secure the border, or in some cases such as in Brownsville, El Paso, and Laredo Texas, mayors issuing emergency declarations.
Tragically, there was an incident just last week in Brownsville, Texas where a motorist plowed into a gathering of people close to a bus stop near a migrant shelter, injuring 16 people and killing 8.
There is no easy way to address the humanitarian, political, conflict, and climate driven crises across the globe that are forcing many migrants to uproot from their countries of origin and seek refuge in other countries. The United States’ asylum laws are seen as some of the most tolerant in the world, and the United States for obvious reasons is a preferred destination. With Title 42 coming to an end, and soon, it will probably take rapid and decisive action from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the US government to effectively and humanely address the anticipated surge of migrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families within the United States.