On May 23, the Biden administration will end the controversial Title 42 that was implemented by Donald Trump, who in March 2020 put the rule into law by executive power, to quickly expel migrants at the border due to health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
After over a year of keeping it in place, the administration has caved to pressure from largely Ukrainians, and is removing the order. The official announcement came Friday, April 1, April Fools’ Day, in an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But it was no April Fool’s joke. The spread of COVID-19 by migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has “ceased to be a serious danger to the public health,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky wrote, in announcing the removal.
The announcement came after a March 12th CDC announcement that it was dropping Title 42 for unaccompanied children only but not adults.
So why the sudden about-face now, especially as a new strain of COVID-19 has emerged? The answer lies in the fact that more Ukrainians, not Africans and Haitians, are now reaching the U.S.’s southern border and seeking asylum there.
Under Title 42, most are now being forced away, but now in this about-face move, the Biden administration is clearing the path for them. However, it also cannot discriminate and now has to also welcome every other immigrant applying for asylum at the U.S.’ southern border—including Africans and Haitians.
This means a likely surge in attempts to enter the U.S. from the problematic border, and a surge in asylum applications from all immigrants, whether they are coming from Ukraine, Haiti, Cameroon, or Central America as Guerline Jozef, the executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance put it.
May is still over a month away but it also means the start of the summer months that could likely attract a surge as big as the ones we saw last summer as the Rio Grande’s levels drop.
There have already been high numbers of apprehensions at the border, even during the pandemic, despite Title 42. Now with the lifting of it, smugglers and cartels in Central America will likely tell migrants the border is open and take their money to get them here by any means necessary, despite what the U.S. says.
So how will this impact the people who have been living in the U.S. for years without legal status and the thousands more caught up in backlogs that are forcing many to be in limbo?
I am sympathetic to the plight of refugees, but it is unfair for them to be able to apply for legal status ahead of someone who has been living in the U.S. for a decade, paying taxes and contributing to the economy of this country, yet has no path to any legal status.
Asylum should be requested at a U.S. embassy and consulate outside of the U.S., not at the U.S. border. That should be the focus with Title 42 ending, so the nightmare of a new southern border surge does not permanently annihilate the path to legal status for the millions who desperately need it within the United States.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.