As COVID-19 burst onto the scene in March 2020, then–President Donald Trump told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an order allowing Customs and Border Protection to expel migrants on public health grounds. Even though immigration advocates decried the measure as inhumane and illegal, President Joe Biden maintained it.
Congress created the Public Health Service Act in 1944 to Title 42. This Act gives federal health officials the authority to issue orders to control the spread of communicable disease. This authority has been used by the CDC to prohibit asylum seekers from crossing into Canada or Mexico. It has only been applied at the southern border in practice. More than 1,000,000 migrants were expelled by the CDC order as of July 2021.
A Title 42 expulsion is not subject to a formal deportation and does not have a reentry fee. This has led to a rise in repeat crossings. The rate of repeat crossings “tended to hover about 10 percent” before the CDC orders, but it reached 38 per cent in May 2021 according to Danilo Zak from the National Immigration Forum.
Critics argue that this policy breaches long-standing asylum legislation as well as international frameworks protecting migrants’ rights. U.S. asylum law provides “guarantees” [migrants]David J. Bier, Cato Institute’s immigration analyst says that migrants have the right to apply at every port of entry. Title 42’s immediate expulsion authority prohibits migrants from presenting their cases.
According to the Associated Press, Martin Cetron of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine refused to support the order. Cetron stated that it wasn’t likely to slow the spread of COVID-19. According to the A.P. According to the A.P., the idea for sealing the border was also conceived by Trump adviser Stephen Miller (an anti-immigration extremer).
However, the Biden administration has continued to support the policy in the name of combating COVID-19. Paola Luisi, National Domestic Workers Alliance stated that there are “ways to protect public safety and not turn away vulnerable families fleeing unspeakable terror.” United Nations High Commission for Refugees made rare public criticism of U.S. policy on border security, noting that policies in other countries “to simultaneously protect public health and allow asylum seekers to apply” were also common.
Expulsions under Title 42 are cruel and discriminate measures to mitigate pandemics. This policy should be opposed by an administration that has vowed to follow the science in treating migrants humanely.