Title 42 policy continues to punish immigrants

An immigrant family seeking asylum prepare to be taken to a border patrol processing facility after crossing into the U.S. on June 16, 2021 in LaJoya, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

'Unnecessary and Irresponsible': Biden Slammed for Continuation of Trump-Era Deportation Policy

"Expelling asylum seekers has never been about public health," said one immigrant rights group.

Immigrant rights defenders redoubled their calls to end a Trump-era deportation policy known as Title 42 after the CDC confirmed Thursday that the measure will remain in place despite long-standing criticism.

"We need a humane, functioning asylum system. Not Title 42," tweeted the National Immigration Forum.

Setting off a wave of criticism was new reporting by CBS News on the CDC's latest assessment of the policy.

Widely condemned since it was first invoked by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic, Title 42 relies on a clause in public health law to restrict immigration at the border. Rights groups like Amnesty International USA, however, have said it's been exploited by both the current and former administrations to unjustly expel hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers.

"Public health advocates, including former officials from the CDC, have long contended that Title 42 has no public health rationale," Amy Fischer, Americas advocacy director at the group, said in a December statement. "Instead, it serves as a politically-motivated tool, using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

In a decision that sparked outrage from human rights defenders, the administration announced in December--months after it fought to keep the Title 42 on the books--that it was continuing the policy, and, according to the new reporting, it will continue to remain in effect.

According to CBS News, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky instructed officials in August to review the policy every 60 days. A third assessment that ended this week resulted in a determination to keep Title 42 in effect.

"The current reassessment examined the present impact of the pandemic throughout the United States and at the U.S. borders, taking special note of the surge in cases and hospitalizations since December due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant," a CDC spokesperson told the outlet.

Among those expressing concern in response to the announcement was former Democratic presidential candidate and secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro.

"Not only is this a wrong, overly burdensome and cruel policy, it may help bring about a spectacular collapse of the Democratic base this November and in 2024," he tweeted. "It's unnecessary and irresponsible all around."

The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project rejected the basis for the policy, saying that "expelling asylum seekers has never been about public health."

The new reporting came days after over 100 groups urged the Biden administration to drop the policy.

"Title 42 expulsions have nothing to do with protecting public health and are not necessary to protect the public from the spread of Covid-19," they wrote to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

"Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic," they wrote, "public health experts, the UN Refugee Agency, and other humanitarian advocates have demonstrated that it is possible to protect public health and ensure access to asylum simultaneously. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) objected to the use of Title 42 for mass expulsions of migrants and confirmed such expulsions lacked a valid public health basis. Your chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has himself stated that immigrants are 'absolutely not' driving a Covid-19 outbreak and that expelling migrants is not a solution to an outbreak."

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