The Trump-era Title 42 policy will be terminated on May 23, announced the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. This termination will allow immigration officers at the U.S.-Mexico border to return to processing migrants and asylum-seekers, rather than quickly expelling them under the pretense of public health and safety.
While Title 42 is a public health order given by the CDC to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, the standard immigration policy used for removal proceedings at the border, which immigration authorities will be reverting back to, is Title 8.
Title 42 Started By Trump, Has Been Continued Under Biden
Title 42 was initially implemented under the Trump administration in March 2020, citing an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus by restricting immigration flow. Under Title 42, border authorities could expel migrants by land or deportation flights without having to screen them for asylum, as normally mandated by U.S. immigration law.
The health emergency that the COVID-19 pandemic created prompted CDC authorities to enact Title 42. It allowed border officials to bypass normal immigration procedures in favor of a quick expulsion, preventing critical asylum screening processes that would reveal whether deporting an individual could cause them harm.
The Biden administration continued the policy for a year, accounting for about 70% of the 1.7 million times Title 42 was used to expel migrants in 2021. Until the announced May 23 termination date arrives, however, border authorities will continue to deport single adult migrants and families, including children.
Termination of Title 42 Policy Prompts Migrant Vaccination Measures
In the weeks leading up to the formal date, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be preparing coronavirus mitigation measures, building new migrant processing facilities and mobilizing additional border agents. They have already launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign and plan to increase its capacity leading up to Title 42’s termination.
Single adults who refuse to get vaccinated will be referred to ICE detention while families who refuse to get vaccinated will be released on stringent parole conditions. The DHS plans to expand its vaccination initiative to inoculate 6,000 migrants in border custody per day by the time Title 42 is expelled.
DHS Authorities Worry About Misinformation Regarding CDC Policy Lift
The expulsion of Title 42 will inevitably lead to a surge of migrant activity at the southern border, with an expected worst case scenario of 12,000-18,000 migrants daily entering U.S. custody, according to the DHS.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas voiced his concerns at a briefing on Friday about the spread of misinformation as a result of the Title 42 policy lift announcement. Mayorkas said smugglers will most likely take advantage of vulnerable migrants to cross the border during this transition period, but that those actions would misrepresent the recent changes in U.S. policy.
“Let me be clear: those unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed,” Mayorkas said at the Friday briefing.
According to Mayorkas, these individuals would be placed in deportation proceedings and thoroughly screened for asylum. Those who do not qualify will be deported and/or turned over to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.