Title 42 US immigration rule which allows US immigration authorities to quickly remove migrants and asylum seekers in the interests of protecting public health, will be scrapped by the Biden administration in late May. The policy was enforced under the Trump administration following the coronavirus outbreak.
However, critics have warned that a ‘new wave of immigrants’ will descend on the US if the policy is lifted in what has been described as a ‘major shift in US border policy. The initial decision to scrap Title 42 comes after the Biden administration was defeated by two federal court rulings in trying to retain the restrictions.
Amid guidance given by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US immigration officials have removed more than 1.7 million migrants from the US, under the Title 42 rule, over the last two years. 70% of expulsions have taken place under Biden, who retained the policy despite reversing many of Trump’s other controversial US immigration rules.
Title 42 was introduced as part of US public health laws formed in the 1940s and has allowed US immigration officials to rapidly remove migrants to Mexico or their native homelands without allowing them to apply for US asylum – a legal safeguard that the government has argued it can execute amid a public health emergency.
Since August 2021, Title 42 has been under review by the CDC every 60 days to determine its continued necessity. The latest assessment was due recently but has not yet been published.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reportedly been preparing for a significant rise in migrant numbers when Title 42 is lifted in May. In what the DHS described as ‘worst-case scenarios’ approximately 12,000 to 18,000 migrants would enter the US on a daily basis, according to an internal contingency plan.
The DHS said that such scenarios, according to the contingency plan, would overwhelm US immigration authorities at the border and would require the government to dispatch thousands of federal employees to the southern border, double the number of buses and planes to transport migrants, and greatly increase capacity at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration processing centers.
As of late April, the Washington court’s ruling will require US immigration agents to interview families with children to establish whether they have a valid asylum claim prior to removing them – a prospect that has the potential to undermine Title 42’s main goal of reducing the number of migrants setting foot on US soil.