The CDC orders Title 42 to be discontinued, saying migrant deportations are no longer required
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday that it will revoke the authority of US border officials to expel migrants without asylum interviews on March 23is no longer necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said she decided to lift the order authorizing the border evictions because of improving pandemic conditions, including increased vaccination rates in the U.S. and migrants’ home countries and the decline in COVID-19 cases and Hospitalizations since this winter’s Omicron rise.
“While the introduction, transmission, and spread of COVID-19 into the United States is likely to continue to some extent, the cross-border spread of COVID-19 from insured non-citizens does not pose the serious public health threat that it once did had given the range of mitigation measures now available,” Walensky wrote in their 30-page policy.
Walensky said she delayed the termination until the end of May to give Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials time to implement measures to contain the coronavirus, including astarted earlier this week.
CBS News and other mediaEarlier this week, the resolution plan for Title 42.
Walensky’s order on Friday marks the beginning of the end of an unprecedented Trump-era border policy that began in March 2020 and that the Biden administration continued for over a year despite concerns about the validity of its public health justification.
US authorities along the Mexican border have used Title 42 to deport migrants more than 1.7 million times in two years. About 70% of those expulsions occurred during the Biden administration, which faced record migrant arrivals at the southern border last year, DHS figures show.
Title 42 has allowed border officials to circumvent US immigration laws that require them to screen asylum seekers to determine if they could be harmed if deported. Most migrants treated under Title 42 were deported overland to Mexico, while others were placed on deportation flights to Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Haiti and other countries in Latin America.
During a briefing with reporters on Friday, senior DHS officials said the U.S. will continue to deport single adult migrants and families with children for the next several weeks until Title 42 is officially lifted.
After Title 42 ends, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday migrants who enter the U.S. illegally will be placed on a deportation process, and his department will seek to deport those who don’t qualify for asylum by detaining longstanding apply immigration laws.
Mayorkas warned that those who smuggle migrants are likely to misrepresent US border policy in light of Friday’s announcement, echoing concerns from DHS officials who doin arrests of migrants after the termination of Title 42.
“We know that smugglers will spread misinformation to take advantage of vulnerable migrants,” Mayorkas added. “Let me be clear: those who cannot find legal grounds to remain in the United States will be deported.”
Mayorkas noted that 600 additional Border Patrol officers have been deployed, and a senior DHS official said the department is ready to mobilize more officers. U.S. border officials are also referring smugglers and certain adult migrants to the Justice Department for prosecution, the official added.
Once Title 42 ends, the administration plans to send more asylum seekers to Mexico under another Trump-era program reinstated by a federal court order late last year, the senior DHS official said. So far, the court-ordered revival of the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy has been limited, affecting fewer than 2,000 migrants.
The DHS official said the department is expanding its recently introduced migrant immunization schedules to be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people in border custody daily by the end of Title 42.
Single adult migrants who refuse to be vaccinated will be placed in ICE custody, the DHS official said, while families who refuse to be vaccinated will be released with “tighter probation conditions,” which would likely include ankle monitors.
While many Democratic lawmakers praised the Biden administration for handling Title 42, Friday’s announcement was widely condemned by Republicans and criticized by some moderate Democrats.
Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire were among Democratic lawmakers who raised concerns about the end of Title 42.
“It’s the wrong decision,” said Kelly, who is running for re-election in November. “It is unacceptable to end Title 42 without a plan and coordination to ensure a safe, orderly and humane process at the border.”
Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, said repealing Title 42 would prevent the government from “stopping new, potentially undetected variants from entering the country.”
Citing the recent easing of other pandemic restrictions, Democratic Reps Bennie Thompson and Nanette Barragán said it was time to end Trump-era border evictions.
“These harmful and inhumane policies were never based on sound scientific or public health needs, but were an all too convenient tool for the extreme members of the previous administration to close the border,” Thompson and Barragán said in a joint statement.