Dems Urge Biden End ‘Title 42’ Expulsion Policy After Court Lifts Exemption for Migrant Children
© AP Photo / Julio CortezIn this March 21, 2021 file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent looks on near a gate on the U.S.-Mexico border wall as agents take migrants into custody, in Abram-Perezville, Texas.
© AP Photo / Julio Cortez
A Texas court has ruled that the US can no longer exempt unaccompanied migrant children from Title 42, a pandemic-era expulsion policy which uses COVID-19 and public health as the basis for the expulsion of migrants seeking asylum in the US. Texas claimed that it had incurred a financial burden for education and housing of migrant children.
A group of Senate Democrats issued a joint memo to the Biden administration on Saturday advocating for the US president to end the use of a Trump-era immigration expulsion policy that has been used by the current administration to expel some hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking asylum at the southern US-Mexico border.
“The continued use of Title 42 has created life-threatening conditions for vulnerable migrants, enriched human smugglers, and significantly increased the number of dangerous border crossings,” read a joint statement issued on Saturday by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).
The group of Senate Democrats also hailed a Friday ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that permitted the continued use of Title 42, but stipulated that the government may not expel migrants to nations where their “life or freedom would be threatened.”
“We urge the Biden Administration to fulfill its early promise to restore access to asylum and end the usage of Title 42 once and for all," wrote the Democrats.
“The [US] Center for Disease Control and Prevention should review their current order given the progress our nation has made in its pandemic recovery.”
The Biden administration appears to be shifting gears regarding federal involvement in COVID-19 mitigation measures. During his State of the Union address on March 1, the US president told a maskless crowd that it was a “new moment” in the nation’s fight against the novel contagious disease, emphasizing that it was time for American public schools to reopen for in-person learning.
“Because of the progress we’ve made, because of your resilience and the tools we have, tonight I can say we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines,” Biden remarked, noting that severe COVID-19 cases have dropped to a level not observed since July 2021.
Despite the so-called turning point, Title 42 will expand to no longer exempt unaccompanied minors from the emergency public health policy, following a separate court decision in Texas on Friday. Children encountered at the southern US border have previously been placed under custody of US Department of Health and Human Services
Dubbing the Title 42 exemption of unaccompanied children “arbitrary and capricious,” Texas District Court Judge Mark Pittman argued that the Biden administration had failed to justify the Trump-era order by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that codifies the Title 42 exemption.
Pittman was appointed to his position by then-US President Donald Trump in 2019.
“Here, the President has [arbitrarily] excepted COVID-19 positive unaccompanied alien children from Title 42 procedures—which were purposed with preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Pittman wrote in a 37-page order, which argued that Texas has borne a financial burden of migrant children who are relocated to the state and receive schooling and medical services under the policy.
23 December 2021, 18:40 GMT
“This matter is even more urgent now that the Northern District Court of Texas has made the unconscionable decision to order the Biden administration to resume the inhumane practice of expelling unaccompanied children,” wrote Sen. Menendez and his colleagues.
The group of US lawmakers noted that the administration made an early pledge to restore access to the asylum system and end the imposition of Trump's Title 42.