Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy welcomes the announcement from the Biden Administration that the use of Title 42, a public health law, to expel vulnerable migrants at our border will finally end on May 23, 2022.
Public health experts and advocates alike have stated that preventing people from seeking asylum has no public health rationale and asylum seekers can be processed safely. Yet the policy remained in place even as other COVID-19 related precautions, including restrictions on business and leisure travel, were phased out.
Since March 2020, over 1.7 million expulsions have been carried out under Title 42, with far-ranging consequences for those expelled. Human Rights First has tracked at least 9,886 cases of kidnappings, torture, rape, and other violent attacks on people expelled to Mexico due to the Title 42 policy since President Biden took office.
While this announcement is welcome news, the fight is not yet over. There are now several congressional efforts and legal challenges to stop the termination of Title 42 and continued advocacy is necessary. In addition, adults and families will continue to face immediate expulsion until the order’s official end on May 23, as announced by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
After Title 42 is lifted, those seeking asylum in the U.S. will still face an uphill battle. The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, which forces many asylum seekers to wait in dangerous areas of Mexico until their court hearings, remains in effect. As of January 2022, those wait times for an asylum hearing averaged five years, though the Biden Administration recently announced plans to streamline the asylum process.
We must continue to advocate for fair and humane asylum policies, as well as sufficient staffing, resources, and coordination with organizations working with asylum seekers on both sides of the border. These efforts will ensure due process and the equitable treatment of all people seeking protection.