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Opinion: Good riddance to this terrible Trump-era political decision

White House communications director Kate Bedingfield outlined the policy change during a Wednesday briefing, telling reporters the move was made on the recommendation of key federal health officials.

“This is a decision that we have long deferred to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” she said. The CDC, saying it has spoken with the Department of Homeland Security, said the change will go into effect at the end of May.

It’s high time to say good riddance to Title 42: It was bad policy under the Trump administration, and it was bad policy under Biden. Title 42 is legally questionable and morally indefensible. Its use endangers migrants under the dubious pretext of public health.

Title 42 is part of a 1944 Health Act that prohibits the entry of persons into the United States when there is a “serious danger to the introduction of [a communicable] disease in the United States. The Trump administration invoked the policy in March 2020, when the Covid-19 virus was spreading rapidly across the country and around the world, and there was no vaccine in sight. Protection statistics show that 1.7 million migrants have been returned across the US southern border to Mexico or repatriated to their countries of origin.
From the start, Trump’s invocation of Title 42 was politically motivated, not legitimate health concerns. In fact, when the Trump administration sought to enforce the law, the CDC doctor who oversaw the settlement refused to comply.
Instead, then-Vice President Mike Pence used his authority to issue an order closing the borders to migrants. Olivia Troye, Pence’s White House adviser, who later said she resigned over the Trump administration’s handling of Covid-19denounced the measure as a “Stephen Miller special” – a reference to a former senior Trump adviser known for his extreme anti-immigration stance.
Title 42 has always been a border control measure disguised as public health policy. Covid-19 was already endemic in the United States when the policy took effect, and the law was never applied to air travelers or US citizens crossing the border. It was only used as a pretext to keep away migrants who were mostly brown, black and economically vulnerable.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said deporting migrants “is not the solution to an epidemic”. Meanwhile, a New England Journal of Medicine article from last month found that “there is no public health evidence that targeting asylum seekers or other migrants…is effective. to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Besides being immoral and ineffective, using Title 42 as a border control measure is also likely illegal.

Under US law, asylum seekers have the right to submit their requests for humanitarian assistance. The United States is a signatory to international agreements that recognize similar rights for refugees. Title 42 violated these rights by allowing immigration authorities to deport migrants without giving them the opportunity to file their asylum claim. In 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees called on Washington to lift Title 42, so that migrants can access the asylum process, “in accordance with international legal and human rights obligations. “.

Opinion: Good riddance to this terrible Trump-era political decision
Part of what made Title 42 so morally reprehensible is that it put thousands of migrants at risk. A 2021 research team for Physicians for Human Rights found that those deported under this measure were subjected to violence once returned to Mexican border towns. And Title 42 has been applied inconsistently: Refugees from Ukraine have been allowed to seek asylum at the border, while those from Haiti have been deported and returned in unsafe conditions home. This blatant double standard is simply unacceptable.

Now, with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions across the country, there is even less justification for continuing to retain Title 42 as US policy. For all of these reasons, the cancellation of Title 42 can’t come soon enough.

Republicans will seize on this move by the Biden administration as evidence of an “open borders” policy. They will paint apocalyptic scenarios of migrants crossing the border. Yet GOP lawmakers have never offered constructive solutions on immigration or asylum. They prefer to buzz with talking points about Biden’s so-called border crisis.

What this country is really dealing with are decades of neglect and mismanagement of US immigration policy by successive presidential administrations.

To be sure, there is a backlog of migrants desperate to enter the United States, and many of them will likely cross the border once Title 42 is rescinded. But that doesn’t mean we should fear or demonize them. The Biden administration is already working on contingency plans to prepare for the expected surge in border arrivals.

Two additional solutions could be for Homeland Security to hire more civilian staff at personnel processing centers and to partner with nonprofits that specialize in handling vulnerable people. This will allow Border Patrol officers to focus on their core mission of securing the border and help ensure that migrants are treated with the compassion they need and deserve.

The United States has a legal obligation to assist people fleeing danger and persecution. Now that the Biden administration is making the long overdue decision to lift Title 42, the United States can finally rebuild an asylum system that respects due process and respects human dignity.

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