BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has welcomed the CDC’s decision to end the use of Title 42 as a means of stopping asylum seekers from entering the United States.
Title 42 is a public health policy introduced by the Trump administration to expel approximately 1.7 million people under the guise of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it would end the use of Title 42 as a border security tool on the southwest border.
“Today is a bright spot in our nation’s history with the end of the Trump-initiated Title 42 policy. The CHC repeatedly called for the end of this policy, which was fueled by Trump’s anti-immigrant hate and fear agenda that used the pandemic as an excuse to deny asylum seekers their legal right to due process,” said U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a medical doctor from California who chairs the CHC.
“The pandemic has slowed, there are effective testing and quarantine protocols in place, and vaccines are readily available. Ending the Trump-era Title 42 policy means that all people fleeing for their lives, whether from a Russian dictator or drug cartels, will have their legal right to due process and their cases heard for asylum protection status without fear of being thrown back to the exact dangers from which they fled.”
There has been a mixed reaction to the decision to end Title 42. Here is some of the commentary that has come in to the Rio Grande Guardian newsroom:
McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos
Donna Norton is executive vice President of MomsRising, an online and on-the-ground organization of more than one million mothers and their families. Here is her statement on ending the use of Title 42 to deny asylum-seekers entry to the United States.
“America’s moms are relieved that the Biden administration is putting an end to the use – or misuse – of Title 42, a policy started by the Trump administration to deny asylum-seekers a chance to seek safety in the United States. U.S. law allows people to seek asylum at our border and this policy has undermined our own law. In fact, Title 42 is a health law that should never have been used in this way. Moms would like to see it ended today, rather than waiting till May 23. It was cruel and dangerous to force asylum-seekers who are fleeing violence, persecution and war to return to the dangerous conditions from which they fled, without being allowed a hearing for their asylum claims. It’s time we institute a just and fair process for considering asylum claims that treats all parties with dignity.
“America’s moms know that families belong together. We want every asylum-seeker and every immigrant to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. That wasn’t possible when our government was using Title 42. We applaud the Biden administration for ending this terrible policy. Good riddance, Title 42!”
U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker
Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are both Democrats from New Jersey. They issued the following statement in response to the Biden Administration’s decision to end Title 42:
“We are glad that the Administration has made the decision to end Title 42 expulsions. Title 42 is a Trump-era relic that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from implementing our immigration laws and enriched smuggling networks by allowing vulnerable migrants to make multiple dangerous trips across the border. It failed to protect public health and instead created chaos at the border and hurt asylum seekers fleeing prosecution and torture.
“While we support ending Title 42, extending this policy until the end of May will only incentivize more irregular migration to the border and create an unnecessary bottleneck effect when it finally sunsets. We hope the administration will expand exemptions to the original order and start lifting Title 42 in phases. They have already used these exemptions to help Ukrainians at the Southern border, and the administration should start processing families of all nationalities immediately. Waiting any longer before starting to process migrants with asylum claims will only allow smugglers to exploit even more vulnerable people and increase operational challenges at the border.
“We also call on the Administration to double down on its efforts to resolve the crises that are driving unprecedented levels of migration throughout our hemisphere. Many of our Cuban, Haitian, Venezuelan, Colombian, and Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, along with others in this hemisphere, face direct and immediate threats to their lives. They are deserving of international protection considerations. It is time for the United States to do its part to expand legal access to migration from Latin America and the Caribbean, including through bolstered visa processing, refugee resettlement, humanitarian parole, and labor migration opportunities. Our nation thrives because of the contributions of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, and denying predominantly Black and Brown migrants from seeking protection from prosecution and torture is not who we are as a nation.
“We stand ready to work closely with all federal agencies of jurisdiction to make sure they have the necessary resources to begin processing asylum seekers, restore humane immigration enforcement and humanitarian laws at the border, and protect all migrants seeking refuge in America.”
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez
Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, issued the following statement in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision to rescind Title 42:
“I urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biden Administration to re-think today’s decision to end Title 42 on May 23, 2022. Until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides border communities and local Customs and Border Patrol sectors adequate resources and a plan, we will once again be wholly unprepared to handle a surge in irregular migration at our Southern Border in a humane, safe, and orderly way.
“While I remain disappointed in the Administration’s failure to include our community in these decisions and refusal to acknowledge the real-life impact on South Texans, their approach is nothing we haven’t seen before. Earlier this week, I joined my colleagues across the aisle to express concern and request simple information about how the CDC, DHS, and other federal agencies plan to maintain order and prevent border communities from being overwhelmed.
“I implore the Administration to provide that information without delay and assure South Texas and communities across the U.S.-Mexico Border have the resources they need.”
American Immigration Council
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council pointed out that Title 42 is a public health policy. He noted that no one advocating to keep it intact is doing so through a public health lens.
Reichlin-Melnick issued these bullet points:
- Even as a border control measure, Title 42 was a failure. The rise in border apprehensions coincides with the implementation of Title 42 under President Trump (see American Immigration Council analysis here and Aaron Reichlin-Melnick’s tweet here). Title 42 incentivized individuals to repeatedly try to cross the border to apply for asylum, and these recidivists drove the number of “encounters” well beyond the actual number of individuals apprehended. In addition, using Title 42 prevented the federal government from using consequence delivery mechanisms available under current law. Pretending Title 42 is an effective border control strategy doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
- America can manage migration and live up to our best traditions as a welcoming nation. Modernizing our immigration laws, not relying on a public health fiction, will help. America can manage migration effectively, protect refugees and asylum seekers who need protection and govern our border with both order and justice. The Biden administration has a plan to restore a fair and functional immigration and asylum system as part of an intelligent regional strategy to deal with forced migration in our hemisphere. But we also need to modernize our immigration laws and reform our immigration system. But Republican obstructionism prevents long-overdue reform. When asked for policy solutions, the GOP re-ups the cruel and chaotic policies of Trump and Miller, with the centerpiece being the completion of the wasteful and failed border wall and naming it after former President Trump.
- Republicans’ concern and criticism on Title 42 is grounded in bad faith and motivated by cynical politics. Don’t forget, the GOP and right wing media started blaming Biden for rising border numbers while Donald Trump was still President! All Republicans have to offer are attack ads, ‘open borders’ falsehoods, and the same cruel and chaotic policies that Trump and Stephen Miller advanced. See here for 5 questions to ask Republicans about immigration and the border, underscoring that the GOP has no solutions beyond their devotion to political attacks, simplistic soundbites and overt nativism.
Vanessa Cárdenas, deputy director of America’s Voice, issued this statement:
“Following science and the law and winding down Title 42 doesn’t mean the sky is falling. In fact, Title 42 was a failure from any number of perspectives. It used a trumped up public health justification to cover for deterring the legitimate exercise of the right under U.S. and international law to apply for refugee status. It arguably increased border apprehensions rather than reducing them. And it undermined our values as a nation that welcomes those fleeing for their lives. Excluding thousands who ask for asylum simply doesn’t hold water. It never did.
“Yes, managing our southern border and upticks in border arrivals is a challenge for the Biden administration, just as it has been for presidents of both parties going back decades. That is why we need to modernize our laws and fix an immigration system that remains broken. We need to fashion a hemispheric strategy that deals with forced migration at its roots and as an urgent matter requiring regional cooperation. To create order and justice at our southern border, we need to address challenges at the border and recognize that forced migration doesn’t start there, it starts in sending communities and countries where governments are failing to address the legitimate needs of those who live there. Most of all, addressing the challenge requires we start with analysis and policies based on data and not on fiction or fear mongering.”
Catholic Legal Immigration Network
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, has long called on the administration to end Title 42. The group says ending Title 42 is a crucial first step towards rebuilding an equitable and welcoming asylum system that protects the safety and dignity of all migrants.
Additionally, CLINIC said, Title 42 has been disproportionately harmful to Black migrants, particularly Haitians, and resulted in nearly 10,000 documented instances of torture, kidnapping, sexual assault and murder.
“We know that our nation is at its best when we welcome refugees and asylum seekers with open arms,” said Anna Gallagher, executive director of CLINIC. “We see this reflected in the quick steps the Biden administration has taken to respond to the refugee and humanitarian crises caused by war in Ukraine. As the administration takes this long-awaited first step towards removing barriers to asylum, we urge the administration to make a full and unequivocal commitment to rebuild an asylum system that welcomes all people with dignity. Heeding the callings of their faith, CLINIC’s affiliates and partners at the border are ready and eager to work with the administration to welcome families, children and adults to safety immediately.”
Lisa Parisio, CLINIC’s director of advocacy, said: “Today’s decision to end Title 42 was the result of steadfast advocacy by Black and brown immigrant leaders calling for a just and humane asylum system that upholds U.S. and international law and basic morality for everyone. “We will not forget the lives lost and those harmed by this illegal and racist policy. Now, we call on the Biden administration to work quickly to ensure proper implementation of this decision and to go further and build an asylum system that welcomes all who are fleeing for their lives with dignity. CLINIC will continue to stand by asylum seekers and our partners to hold the Biden administration accountable to its promises and reject the politicization of human life.”
Texas Border Coalition
The Texas Border Coalition represents border communities from Brownsville to El Paso. The group wrote a letter about Title 42 just before it was ended.
In the letter, TBC urged U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alexander Mayorkas to utilize an “all hands on deck” approach at the Southern border amid fears that a surge of migrants would overwhelm community resources once Title 42 expulsions are allowed to expire.
“Should Title 42 authority be removed, many observers – including the Texas Border Coalition – anticipate that many people who have attempted to cross the border and been excluded under Title 42 will try again. This would mean a large influx of migrants seeking asylum status,” said Cameron County Judge and TBC Chairman Eddie Treviño, Jr., in the TBC letter to Mayorkas.
“Because the situation requires an “all hands on deck” approach, we urge you to deploy all available officers to the southwest border land ports of entry (with all the COVID protections necessary), including management personnel, trainees, asylum officers, volunteers, and processing personnel. Such an operation must include sufficient coordination with and funding for humanitarian organizations to prevent the release of migrants into border communities not equipped to handle such an influx,” Treviño said.
Here is a copy of the TBC letter:
The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
MS 0525, 2707 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20528-0525
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
As you know, the current Title 42 authority for excluding migrants seeking asylum could expire in April, depending on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reassessment of the current authorization.
Should Title 42 authority be removed, many observers – including the Texas Border Coalition – anticipate that many people who have attempted to cross the border and been excluded under Title 42 will try again. This would mean a large influx of migrants seeking asylum status.
We appreciate the Biden Administration’s action to prepare for such influx by forming the Southwest Border Coordination Center (SBCC) to execute an interagency response.
TBC is also grateful for the Department of Homeland Security’s swift action on our recommendation for the proposed rule “Procedures for Credible Fear Screening and Consideration of Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT Protection Claims by Asylum Officers” to shift asylum decisions from being made by immigration judges in courtrooms to being made by asylum officers trained to decide protection claims.
We urge you to implement this new procedure prior to any action on Title 42 to assure humanitarian protection for eligible applicants for asylum and increased security at America’s borders. Absent the implementation of the rule, neither of these goals are likely to be achieved.
Because the situation requires an “all hands on deck” approach, we urge you to deploy all available officers to the southwest border land ports of entry (with all the COVID protections necessary), including management personnel, trainees, asylum officers, volunteers, and processing personnel. Such an operation must include sufficient coordination with and funding for humanitarian organizations to prevent the release of migrants into border communities not equipped to handle such an influx.
As you know, TBC acts as the collective voice of border communities on issues that affect Texas- Mexico border region’s quality of life, commerce, and public policy. TBC is comprised of mayors, city council members, county judges, county executives, businesses, corporations, and community leaders. Collectively, we represent more than 2.5 million people who reside along the more than 1,250 miles of the Texas-Mexico border, from Brownsville to El Paso, Texas. We believe in the economic vibrancy of our border region and its potential to re-vitalize is dependent on cross-border travelers.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request. We look forward to a positive response on this matter.
Eddie Treviño, Jr.
Chairman, Texas Border Coalition
County Judge, Cameron County, Texas
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