Expiration of Title 42 Brings New Problems for Migrants

Migrant with backpack at border

Many thousands of migrants from numerous countries around the world have been gathering at the U.S. border patiently waiting for the end of the U.S. government’s Title 42 policy which expires at midnight, Thursday May 11.  A then little-known 1944-era rule under the Public Health Service Act, Title 42 was put into play during the Covid-19 pandemic and prevented most asylum-seekers from entering the U.S. It was billed as an effort to limit the virus’s spread by reducing the introduction of “communicable diseases”.  

Since March 2020, border patrol agents have routinely expelled almost 3 million migrants without giving them the opportunity to present their evidence regarding persecution.  According to a study by the non-profit Human Rights First, the majority of those expelled under Title 42 came from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Venezuelan, Colombia and Mexico. The study also concluded that asylum seekers who were forced back often face violence in Mexico including rape, kidnapping, and torture. Ukrainians fleeing the war with Russia have had earlier entry at the U.S.’s southern border.  

Post Title 42, the rules revert back to the immigration procedures outlined in Title 8 of the U.S. Code.  Under the new old rules, the U.S. will not have the “open border” as many asylum-seekers were hoping. All migrants will now be processed “quickly” and a paper trail will be created for those screened for asylum claims. Expedited deportations are still anticipated for those who do not have a legal basis to stay in the U.S. 

Migrants who get caught crossing unlawfully could face criminal prosecution or be barred from entering the U.S. for at least five years. The federal government expects the number of migrants who attempt to cross repeatedly will be reduced. It’s anticipated that the U.S. will open a number of regional processing centers in Central and South America where migrants can legally apply for entry to the U.S. Individuals from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua who have a U.S. financial sponsor can be granted temporary entrance.

More than 8,000 people are currently crossing the border each day. According to Homeland Security officials, almost 25,000 migrants are already in custody. In the border town of El Paso, Texas, more than 2,000 migrants are living on the streets and at least 10,000 more are waiting across the bridge in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. San Diego officials are already hosting close to 6,000 migrants and are closely watching migrant massing in Tijuana, Mexico. In addition to those from Central and South America, migrants from Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have also found their way to San Diego.  

Almost 60,000 migrants have been processed in New York City since last summer and 36,000 remain in the NYC shelter system. FEMA recently awarded $30 million to NCY for humanitarian aid, a drop in the bucket of what was requested. NYC is expected more than 750 migrants will arrive each day after Title 42 is lifted, according to CNN. 

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