Title 42

Been hearing a lot about Title 42. Fox News is going nuts about it, saying it cannot be ended. A number of democrats are voicing similar views. I just started hearing about Title 42 about a week ago. So what is it?

Title 42 is named for a health law, authorized in 1944 to prevent communicable diseases. Federal health authorities were given authority, during a pandemic, to turn away asylum-seekers in order to limit “the introduction of communicable diseases”.

In March 2020, the anti-immigration Trump admninistration had the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) invoke this policy. Their argument was it was needed to curb the spread of COVID. Border patrol agents, had the authority to expel migrants seeking asylum, without giving them a chance to identify why they were seeking asylum. Since the invocation of Title 42, migrants have been turned away more than 1.7 million times. This does not mean that 1.7 million migrants were turned away, given that individual migrants have tried to enter the US more than once. In the last 9 months of the Trump administration, there were 400,000 expulsions, under Title 42. In the subsequent 13 months, there were over 1.2 million expulsions under the Biden administration. Both administrations argued that Title 42 superseded US asylum law, which allows migrants, on US soil, to seek protection (asylum) regardless of their legal status (e.g. illegal immigrant)

This order was enacted for 30 days back in March 2020, extended for another 30 days in April 2020, and extended indefinitely in May 2020. The CDC announced on April 1, that Title 42 authorization would cease on May 23, given that the expulsion of migrants would no longer be necessary to protect public health. The CDC further added that the 50 plus day delay from announcement to actual implementation would give border officials time to expand health protocols, including giving vaccine doses to up to 6,000 migrants per day.

As of the end of March there were already 7,000 migrants per day. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials estimate that, given the announcement of the end of Title 42 authority, the number of migrants could increase to up 18,000 per day. DHS officials were quick to point out that while Title 42 is lifted, migrants who don’t qualify for asylum will be deported. On April 3, GOP officials in Louisiana, Arizona and Missouri sued to keep Title 42 going, on the grounds that the CDC did not properly justify its decision. No doubt, however this goes, it will play a major role in the midterm elections.

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