Saturday, November 26, 2022

Title 42 Highlights the U.S. Broken Immigration System

Title 42 is a public-health emergency rule invoked in March 2020 by President Trump’s administration to combat the spread of COVID-19. Although it was meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the border, it allowed the immediate expulsion of migrants, including asylum-seekers, without any justification.

The policy has been used on nearly 1.9 million occasions to expel migrants and is still active despite the U.S. loosening up traveling restrictions. Under Title 42, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) can immediately expel migrants to Mexico, instead of putting them through formal deportation proceedings.

President Biden has had to balance concerns about rising migration numbers with the promise to create a more humane and fair immigration system and to respect migrants’ rights to seek asylum.

Migration numbers are rising everywhere, not only in the U.S., and more people have been displaced from their home countries than at any time since 1945 during World War II. COVID-hit economies, violence, persecution, and the climate crisis have pushed Central and South Americans to relocate. Last year, a record 131,000 people applied for asylum in Mexico.

Congress has notoriously failed to pass immigration reform. The U.S. current immigration system was designed for a time when most migrants were Mexican single adults trying to come to America for work, but now there are children and families coming to the U.S. seeking asylum.

“We are operating within a fundamentally broken immigration system that only Congress can fix,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, in a recent memorandum.

The Biden administration will introduce a faster system for processing asylum claims of new arrivals, but that will not fix the record backlog of asylum cases. Last year650 migrants (and most likely many more) died trying to enter the U.S., the deadliest year on record.

Javier Villalobos, Mayor of McAllen, a Texas border town, said the situation is so urgent that he does not want members of Congress to come to the border, he wants them to “stay in Washington, sit down, figure out what to do, and fix our border and our immigration problems.”

The Economist