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Continuing Trump Legacy, Biden Administration Fails to End “Heartless and Illegal” Title 42

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Instead of copying his predecessor, President Biden must end betrayals of what he promised would be humane immigration policies

Karen Musalo, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California, Hastings, pens a powerful op-ed in the LA Times calling on the Biden Administration to end Title 42, a policy that allows for the immediate expulsion or deportation of asylum seekers without the chance to seek protection from violence and persecution. The bogus COVID-19 public health pretext for Title 42 has never held any water, and both legal scholars and public health officials have called on both the Trump and Biden Administrations to end the policy. 

Title 42 was Stephen Miller’s brainchild, and paired with the news this week the Biden Administration is also making plans to resume Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program, it’s clear the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the previous administration continues to hold far too much sway over the current administration’s strategy. Ending Title 42 is good politics and good policy, and a failure to act is harmful both to impacted refugees and the Biden Administration’s immigration legacy.

The article is excerpted below and available in full here.

“The so-called Title 42 border closure, which uses the COVID-19 pandemic to justify immediate expulsion or deportation of people fleeing persecution and torture, has always been heartless and illegal. So why is the Biden administration indefinitely continuing this most egregious and unlawful of Trump’s immigration policies? Recent reports confirm that it’s in part because the White House doesn’t want the political repercussions of ending it.

That craven position would be a flimsy defense in court. It’s also simply bad politics.

…This misuse of Title 42 authority, a public health law, was the brainchild of former President Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller. Evidently not satisfied with the administration’s brutal “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to await their hearings in Mexico, once COVID-19 struck Miller decided the pandemic could be used as a pretext to close the border, denying migrants the right to even seek asylum. Officials at the CDC maintained that this measure was not justified by public health considerations and only acceded as a result of sustained White House pressure.

The Title 42 policy has resulted in untold suffering. People refused entry are either expelled to Mexico, where they face kidnapping, rape and other brutal assaults, or they are forcibly returned to their home countries — regardless of the human rights violations they may encounter there. Since September, thousands of Haitians have been deported despite the U.S. government’s acknowledgement that Haiti is “grappling with a deteriorating political crisis, violence, and a staggering increase in human rights abuses.” The kidnapping for ransom of American missionaries in October highlighted the acute dangers that persist in the island nation.

…President Biden has repeatedly articulated the centrality of human rights to his administration, and the importance of American values, including respecting the rule of law. Actions speak louder than words, and this stated commitment simply cannot be squared with a policy that denies protection to desperate individuals fleeing grave violence. It is past time to put an end to the use of Title 42, and to restore asylum as required by domestic and international law.”