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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)

Dems to Biden After Court Ruling: End Covid Border Policy 'Once and for All'

"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."

Jessica Corbett

After a federal appeals court on Friday boosted protections for migrant families endangered by the Biden administration's continued use of a Trump-era tactic to expel them on public health grounds, Democrats called on the White House to fully scrap the policy.

"We support yesterday's D.C. Circuit ruling that the Department of Homeland Security can no longer use Title 42 to expel families to countries where they are likely to suffer persecution or torture," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in a statement Saturday.

"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," the senators said of the public health authority first invoked under former President Donald Trump in 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Human rights advocates have long argued the policy doesn't actually serve public health—especially with the development of effective Covid-19 tests and vaccines—and shamed President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for continuing it.

Although the court didn't fully end the administration's use of Title 42 for expulsions, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project deputy director Lee Gelernt, who argued the appeal, said Friday that the panel's ruling in Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, "leaves no doubt that this brutal policy has resulted in serious harm to families seeking asylum and must be terminated."

That message was echoed in tweets from Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.):

The four senators, in their joined statement, recalled the administration's widely condemned treatment of Haitian migrants in September.

"We all watched in horror as thousands of Haitian families, including infants, were returned to Haiti without the opportunity to seek asylum in Del Rio, Texas, and remain concerned as thousands of Haitians have been expelled from the United States in the months since," they said. "Turning away families seeking protection from torture or persecution is not who we are."

"Appealing this decision to the Supreme Court would risk exposing even more families to unnecessary harm," the senators warned. "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. The Centers for Disease Control should review their current order given the progress our nation has made in its pandemic recovery."

Noting that "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," they concluded that "as we emerge from this pandemic, it is time for the administration to reinstate humanitarian protections at our borders."

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