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Title 42: Here’s What Happens If COVID Asylum Restrictions End at the U.S. Border

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WASHINGTON– Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has used a public health rule aimed at limiting the spread of the disease to deport asylum seekers at the southern border.

Title 42, as it is known, has been used more than 2.5 million times to deport migrants since March 2020, although this number includes people who have repeatedly tried to cross the border.

The Supreme Court said in a decision Tuesday that it would keep Title 42 in place indefinitely. The case will be heard in February, and the stay will be maintained until the judges decide the case.

READ MORE: Supreme Court upholds ‘Title 42’ immigration limits indefinitely

In November, a federal judge ruled that immigration authorities could no longer use Title 42 to quickly deport potential asylum seekers and set a December 21 deadline for ending its use. It has sparked a legal back-and-forth with a group of conservative-leaning states pushing to keep Title 42 in place and the federal government and immigration advocates saying its time is over.

The change comes as a growing number of people seek to enter the country through the southern border and Republicans intend to make immigration a key issue when they take control of the House in January.

A look at Title 42 and the potential impact of the decision:

how it started

In March 2020, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order restricting migration across southern and northern borders, saying it was necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The virus was ravaging the United States, schools were closing and hospitals were filling up, and President Donald Trump was trying many ways to limit migration, his flagship political issue.

The order authorized Customs and Border Protection to immediately deport migrants, including asylum seekers, to prevent the spread of the virus. The order said areas where migrants were held were often not designed to quarantine people or allow for social distancing and could endanger border staff and others.

“The public health risks of inaction are significant,” he said.

The Biden administration continued the policy. While many Democrats pushed President Joe Biden to roll back Trump’s anti-immigration measures, some — especially in border states — argued for keeping Title 42, saying the US was unprepared. to an increase in the number of asylum seekers. When the CDC decided to lift it earlier this year, moderate Democrats — whose senses. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia – wanted him to stay.

The legal battle

In 2021, a group representing immigrants who were denied the right to seek asylum filed a lawsuit to end the use of Title 42.

As this case made its way through the courts, the CDC announced last April that the rule was no longer necessary as vaccines and treatments became much more widespread.

This prompted Republican-leaning states to file their own lawsuit to keep Title 42 in place. The states argued that ending the rule would lead to an increase in the number of migrants in their states, which in turn would affect their services. That argument found favor with a Trump-appointed judge in Louisiana who ordered to keep the restrictions in place. The judge found that the Biden administration failed to follow administrative procedures requiring public notice and time to seek public comment on the plan to end the restrictions.

But that decision was effectively blocked by another federal judge in a separate lawsuit in Washington. This judge, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, ruled on November 15 that the Biden administration must lift asylum restrictions by December 21. That decision, addressing broader issues about Title 42, took precedence over the Texas decision, encouraging immigration advocates. In a key development, the federal government did not appeal to keep public health restrictions in place.

“The tribunal was correct in concluding that the migrant ban, while allowing the rest of the country to open up, is unlawfully arbitrary, causes serious harm to desperate asylum seekers, and exceeds U.S. legal commitments. to provide a safe haven for those fleeing persecution,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Then a group of conservative states tried to intervene to keep Title 42 in place. They argued that undoing the pandemic-era policy “will cause a huge disaster at the border” and that the additional migrants will increase states’ costs for law enforcement, education and health care. They also argued that they needed to intervene after the feds failed to insist on keeping Title 42 in place. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last week ordered a temporary stay of Title 42 so it could thoroughly study each side’s arguments.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday extended the temporary stay indefinitely as it set a February timetable for hearing arguments.

SEE ALSO: Migrants dropped off near VP’s Washington home in record cold on Christmas Eve

Does Title 42 apply to all asylum seekers?

Not really. The Biden administration has not used it with children traveling alone, only single adults or families. And the ban has been applied unevenly by nationality, falling largely on migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – in addition to Mexicans – because Mexico allows them to be removed from the United States. United. Last month, Mexico began accepting Venezuelans deported from the United States under Title 42, causing a sharp drop in the number of Venezuelans seeking asylum at the US border.

Some other nationalities are less likely to be subject to Title 42 because costs or frayed relationships with their home country, Cuba for example, make it difficult for the United States to remove them. People from these countries have become a growing presence at the border, confident that they will be released to the United States to pursue their immigration cases.

According to the most recent figures released by Customs and Border Protection officials, illegal border crossings by Cubans and Nicaraguans rose sharply in November, while overall migration flows were little changed from October.

What happens if Title 42 ends?

If it disappears, asylum seekers will be interviewed by asylum officers who will determine whether they have a “credible fear” of being persecuted in their country of origin. If they are found to face a credible threat, they may remain in the United States until a final decision is made.

It can take years. Although some are detained while their asylum process unfolds, the vast majority are released in the United States with notices to appear in immigration court or report to immigration authorities.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a memo outlining its preparations for the end of Title 42 use that the current system is not designed “to handle the current volume of migration nor the increased volume we anticipate. over the coming weeks and months.”

He said he was preparing for a possible surge by cracking down on smuggling rings, accelerating the deportation of those with little reason to stay in the United States and working with international partners to stem the migration. He said he was also looking for more money in Congress. Meanwhile, as temperatures plummeted last week, thousands of migrants gathered on the Mexican side of the border waiting to see what happens if and when the use of Title 42 ends.

Republicans, who will control the House next January, are expected to make immigration a major issue. Calls have already been made to remove Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Some Democrats have also expressed concern about what will happen when Title 42 goes away. In a letter to Biden this week, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas joined two Texas Republicans — Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Tony Gonzales — in asking Biden to keep Title 42 in place, saying there was a crisis on the southern border and that DHS had not come forward with a plan to maintain control there.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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