The United States announced on Thursday that it will extend COVID-19 pandemic-era restrictions, known as Title 42, to expel migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico.
- This move would block more nationalities from seeking asylum in the United States. At the same time, the White House said it would open more legal pathways for migrants from those nations to apply to enter the country from abroad.
Why are migrants blocked at the border under covid rules?
- Title 42 is a restriction that was implemented by the U.S. health authorities in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow border agents to rapidly send migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico or other countries.
- The order was implemented under Republican former President Donald Trump, whose administration sought to greatly curtail both immigration. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said at the time it was needed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in crowded detention settings.
- Many public health experts, Democrats and advocates have criticized and pushed back against the order, saying it unlawfully blocked migrants from claiming asylum and subjected them to dangers, like kidnapping and assault, in Mexico.
- Migrants and immigrant advocate organizations sued seeking to lift the order, while Republican states have sued to keep it in place, litigation that is still ongoing.
Biden Administration's Handling of Title 42
- S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who took office in January 2021, campaigned on a promise to reverse Trump's restrictive asylum policies. While Biden moved to end some Trump restrictions, he left Title 42 in place for more than a year, exempting unaccompanied children but allowing U.S. authorities to send hundreds of thousands of migrants, including families, back to Mexico.
- Since Biden took office, there have been record numbers of migrants caught
Since Biden took office, there have been record numbers of migrants caught
- The decision to expand Title 42 restrictions to migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti was met with criticism from immigrant rights groups, who argue that it undermines the right to seek asylum and puts migrants at risk of violence and persecution in Mexico.
- They also pointed out that the move would disproportionately impact people of color and those fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.
- Some experts also pointed out that expanding Title 42 restrictions may not be effective in addressing the root causes of migration and that the U.S. should focus on addressing the underlying issues such as poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and violence in these countries. Additionally, the policy could result in more migrants attempting to cross the border illegally which can put them at further risk.
- The Biden administration defended the decision, saying it was made in light of the ongoing crisis at the border and the need to protect public health.
- The White House said it would open more legal pathways for migrants from those nations to apply to enter the country from abroad, however, critics pointed out that the measures were not enough and that the U.S. should be providing more robust solutions to address the root causes of migration.
The decision to extend Title 42 restrictions to migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico is a continuation of the Trump-era policies aimed at curtailing immigration. While the Biden administration said it would open more legal pathways for migrants from these nations to apply to enter the country from abroad, the move is likely to be met with pushback from immigrant rights groups who argue that it undermines the right to seek asylum and puts migrants at risk of violence and persecution in Mexico.