Here’s what you need to know about Title 42, the pandemic-era policy that quickly sends migrants to Mexico

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For the past two years, the federal government has denied migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, including those seeking asylum, using a public emergency health order known as Title 42. It was released by the Trump administration at the start of a pandemic and continued with the Biden administration. .

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced plans to end Title 42 on May 23 as COVID-19 cases have declined and vaccines are widely available. But that date is now in question over Republican lawsuits aimed at keeping the policy in place.

What began as an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the border has turned into a fierce debate over whether Title 42 should be continued as an immigration tool to block migrants from seeking asylum.


Here’s what you need to know about the law:

What is Title 42?

Title 42 is part of the Public Health Act of 1944 to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the country. Under the law, whenever the U.S. surgeon general determines that there is a contagious disease in another country, health officials have the right, with the approval of the president, to prohibit “the importation of persons and property from such countries or places.” until health officials consider action necessary. This power was transferred from the US Surgeon General to the Director of the CDC in 1966.

Congress approved a similar law in 1893 during a cholera epidemic that gave the president the power to exclude people from certain countries during a public health emergency. It was first used in 1929 to ban people coming from China and the Philippines during a meningitis epidemic.


Why was it activated?

The Trump administration cited Title 42 for the first time since its creation in March 2020 as a way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in immigrant detention centers, where many migrants are housed after arriving at the border between USA and Mexico.

According to The New York Times, Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to former President Trump, imposed the idea of ​​using Title 42 on the US-Mexico border as early as 2018, long before COVID-19 appeared.

As COVID-19 cases increased in the United States, then-CDC Director Robert Redfield introduced Title 42 to seal the land borders with Canada and Mexico for asylum seekers on March 20, 2020. The Associated Press reported that then-Vice President Mike Pence has ordered Redfield to accept Title 42 over objections from CDC researchers, who said there was no evidence that it would slow the spread of the virus in the United States.


Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said immigrants were not increasing the number of COVID-19 cases.

How many migrants have been removed under Title 42?

Immigration officials have used the health order nearly 1.8 million times to expel migrants, many of whom have been removed many times after repeated attempts to enter the United States.

According to Title 42, the recidivism rate – the percentage of people detained more than once by a border patrol – has risen to 27%. Previously, the percentage was 7%.


During the Trump administration, immigration agents expelled all types of migrants; the Biden administration instructed agents to release unaccompanied children from Section 42. When agents detain unaccompanied children, they are placed in a federal shelter or government facility until they reunite with a family member in the United States or find a sponsor.

While most migrants are sent across the Mexican border under Title 42, others return to their home countries. Immigration officials also have the right to allow certain migrants to enter the country if there are “significant interests of law enforcement, officials and public safety, humanitarian interests and public health”.

What happens if Title 42 is terminated?

Homeland Security predicts up to 18,000 daily encounters with migrants – more than twice the average so far – when Title 42 is over. Anticipating such an increase, the agency has launched a plan that includes vaccinating migrants in US Customs and Border Detention, adding 600 CBP agents across the southwest border, and increasing the capacity of federal detention centers from 12,000 to 18,000.


Instead of sending migrants directly to Mexico, immigration officials will process the arriving migrants and determine if they have a reliable asylum case or if they qualify for other immigration benefits that allow them to enter the country. If not, immigration agents will detain migrants and deport them to their home countries.

Some asylum seekers will be placed in the Migrant Protection Protocols, another Trump-era policy that forces migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases go through U.S. courts. The Biden administration tried to cancel the program only to have a federal judge order it reinstated following a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The US Supreme Court recently heard arguments about whether the White House has the right to terminate it and is expected to rule this year.

What is the status of the court battles for Title 42?

The Public Health Order is the subject of lawsuits in federal courts across the country.


On March 4, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth ruled in favor of Texas and ordered the Biden administration to stop exempting unaccompanied children from deportation under Title 42. The same day, the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, upheld the ruling. – the low court in a separate case that it is illegal to expel the families of asylum seekers to countries where they may be persecuted or tortured.

After the CDC announced it allowed Title 42 to expire, Arizona and 21 other states filed a federal lawsuit on April 3 in West Louisiana County, asking a judge to suspend the government to repeal Title 42. Texas filed a separate lawsuit on April 22. the same.


Both cases allege that the Biden administration violated administrative procedure laws and that if Title 42 was repealed as planned, it could lead to chaos at the border.

On Wednesday, District Judge Robert R. Somerhace, appointed to former President Donald Trump, temporarily blocked the Biden administration from suspending the use of Title 42 and said it planned to block efforts to end Title 42.

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Here’s what you need to know about Title 42, the pandemic-era policy that quickly sends migrants to Mexico

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