While Title 42, a measure allowing the government to make critical measures to protect public health has remained in place since the start of the pandemic, the Biden administration announced that it will be lifted in late May, citing that the Department of Homeland Security will now have proper time to prepare and provide COVID-19 vaccine doses and other measures to deal with the expected influx of migrants crossing the border. The lifting of this measure is expected to draw an unprecedented number of illegal immigrants to the U.S.
1. Based on COVID Restriction
Title 42, originating from a 1940s public health law preventing the spread of a transmissible disease, allows the U.S. Surgeon General to enact emergency measures in instances where individuals or even goods entering America pose a threat to the country’s public health.
In March 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented the law under the Trump administration and ordered border enforcement agencies to remove migrants trying to cross into the U.S., including asylum seekers. Migrants who arrived at the border without documents were typically sent back to their country of origin, but if migrants tried to claim asylum, they were interviewed by an asylum officer before facing removal or deportation.
The CDC announced recently that the Biden administration would lift the previous Trump era’s pandemic restrictions that blocked migrants from entering the U.S. from the Mexican border. The CDC stated that officials only needed time to come up with proper COVID-19 mitigation protocols like scaling up COVID-19 vaccinations and health facilities.
2. Increase in Refugees
According to recent data, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained 5,000 Ukrainians at U.S. land, sea, and air borders. The report by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showed a significant increase from 1,146 who were detained in February. Based on reports from the United Nations, more than 4.9 million people have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February. The data further shows that a total of 3,275 were detained at the southwest border, showcasing another increase from just 272 Ukrainians detained in February. The Biden administration stated that the U.S. will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian and Russians fleeing the war.
3. Bipartisan Outrage
Both Republican and Democratic politicians are outraged by the Biden administration’s arguing that there is not a sufficient plan to prevent the border from facing a crisis. Senators and Congressmen from both sides have either come outright against the removal decision or provided more time for the administration to prepare for the numerous challenges that the CBP will face. To combat the problems that the U.S. will face from removing Title 42, Republicans and Democrats have called for improved technology at the border and increased spending for CBP equipment and hires. Members of the federal government have also called for potentially creating a broader border-related hearing for the Homeland Security panel next month if the administration goes through with its plans.
4. Asylum Seekers & Temporary Status
With the removal of Title 42, DHS announced that the Biden administration is extending the temporary protection status for Ukrainian refugees for another 18 months. The DHS under Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas stated that this designation will allow eligible Ukrainians to stay in the U.S. and apply for employment authorization. When Title 42 was enacted during the Trump administration, a rising number of migrants from countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and others were permitted to seek asylum in America because Mexico would not allow the expulsion of migrant families who had children under the age of seven. Many of the asylum seekers were sent to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers, and during the first few months of Biden’s presidency, the number of migrants sent to these places from the U.S.-Mexico border increased significantly.
5. Overwhelms Border Patrol
Government officials and members of Congress are concerned that the Border Patrol is not ready to deal with the incoming migrant wave from the federal government’s decision to remove Title 42. Senators and Congressmen from both political parties are fully aware that Border Patrol agents do not have the resources, personnel, money, and buses, to move apprehended migrants ranging from 7,000-18,000 a day. Videos and photographs from various Border Patrol agents and chiefs have shown large amounts of illegal immigrants from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean being detained or stopped. According to the National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents border agents, the planning needed to transport and process large groups of migrants strains the manpower and resources, given they are encountered in desolate areas where large transportation vehicles are not accessible.