By Zarina Jones
Title 42, was enacted against the guidance of many in March of 2020 under the Trump administration. This code allows federal bodies of public health like the CDC to stop migrants from entering the country to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Two years into his administration, President Joe Biden’s administration chose to keep this law in place despite evidence that this was never truly necessary or beneficial as a public health measure. Initially, the Biden administration announced their intention to end Title 42 on May 23, but a Trump appointed judge blocked the ending of Title 42 through a preliminary injunction keeping this inhumane policy in place for the near future.
Officially, Title 42 was put into place by the CDC during the Trump administration as a response to the pandemic, but many critics of this choice believed it was a twofold action, both protecting against Covid-19 and furthering anti-immigration policies. Public health experts both within the CDC and outside of the organization argued against the initial enactment and have spoken out against it throughout the progression of the pandemic. There was even a letter written to Biden administration officials from public health experts arguing that Title 42 may increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission because of the packed nature of holding facilities and methods of transportation. One group did officially become exempt from Title 42 earlier this year, and that is unaccompanied minors, but both single adults and families seeking asylum in the US are still being denied entry to the country due to Title 42.
This piece of legislation has had major impacts on the rate of immigration into the United States. Since March of 2020, almost 2 million people have been removed from the country to either Mexico or their country of origin. This number is so high because of the surge in repeat crossers, or people who have attempted to cross the border and been sent back multiple times. Asylum seekers are being turned away, sent to areas of violence they were attempting to escape, and left with no choice but to try again and again to risk their lives in the hopes of crossing the border. These repeat crossings mean that the law has actually led to an increase in border crossings rather than lowering their rates as many have been led to believe. Beyond that, at the time Title 42 was first put in place, there were more cases of Covid-19 in the United States than Mexico, furthering the idea that the purpose of enacting this code had more to do with controlling immigration than controlling the pandemic.
As progress has been made in the fight against Covid-19 with new vaccines and rapid testing capabilities in the US, the question of why Title 42 is still active has been raised by many. The plan to end the Code on May 23 was blocked by a Louisiana federal judge who granted a temporary restraining order based on a lawsuit raised by 21 states. This lawsuit has put the potential for ending Title 42 at a standstill, with lawmakers across the board supporting this decision while others still rally against it. The initial goal of the Biden administration to end Title 42 was a sound one, based on the understanding that it has been ineffective at best, and detrimental to asylum seekers for over 2 years at its very worst.
Title 42 is a violent policy with devastating humanitarian consequences. This week 50 migrants were found dead in a truck attempting to make the crossing, and many more are being exposed to violence at the border without access to a lawful entry point and with no ability to apply for asylum. Immigrants and asylum seekers deserve better. Our politicians need to do more for this community, working harder to ensure safety and fair treatment for immigrants every step of the way. Ending Title 42 is a pivotal part of reaching this goal, but actual immigration reform will require President Biden and our lawmakers to make additional major changes. Our continued support and activism for this reform is essential to ensuring that immigration will be better and safer for everyone.
Gramlich, John. “Key Facts about Title 42, the Pandemic Policy That Has Reshaped Immigration Enforcement at U.s.-Mexico Border.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 28 Apr. 2022, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/04/27/key-facts-about-title-42-the-pandemic-policy-that-has-reshaped-immigration-enforcement-at-u-s-mexico-border/.
“A Guide to Title 42 Expulsions at the Border.” American Immigration Council, 14 June 2022, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/guide-title-42-expulsions-border.
Isacson, Adam. “Three Consequences of Keeping Title 42 in Place at the U.S.-Mexico Border.” WOLA, 24 May 2022, https://www.wola.org/analysis/three-consequences-of-keeping-title-42-in-place-at-the-us-mexico-border/.