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Migrants in Mexico

Migrants wait in line for clothes and supplies in a makeshift migrant camp in the border town of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico on July 10, 2021. Hundreds of people from Central America and other Latin American countries have been sent to the camp by U.S. border officials after trying to enter the United States. (Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)

Protests Urge Congress to End 'Cruel, Racist, and Xenophobic' Title 42 Amid Court Fight

"Every day that Title 42 remains in place is another day that the United States continues to put politics over humanity," said one activist.

Brett Wilkins

Rallies and marches were held in Mexican border cities Sunday and Monday to protest the continuation of Title 42, the highly controversial anti-migrant rule still in place following a right-wing judge's injunction against the Biden administration's plan to end what one critic called a "cruel, racist, and xenophobic" policy.

"For us, Title 42 ends the dream of many, because in all immigrants' dreams, asylum is a right, and Title 42 takes that right away from us," a demonstrator named Edward told Democracy Now! at a Tijuana protest on Monday.

Vanessa, another protester, told the program: "We've been here for almost a year in Tijuana. We've been in a shelter for five months, and we've been in a rented apartment for five more months, and it has been very difficult. I hope they give us support and let us enter the U.S. And we hope things there will be different, because here in Tijuana there is also a lot of danger."

Title 42 is a provision of the Public Health Safety Act first invoked by the Trump administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 which has been used to remove nearly two million asylum-seekers—the majority of them during the tenure of President Joe Biden.

Tweeting Common Dreams coverage of the judge's injunction, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) noted Monday that "today, Title 42, the racist and xenophobic public health law that's blocked millions of refugees and asylum-seekers from entering the country, was supposed to end. We must fight this ruling and restore our country as a beacon of hope."

Echoing Jayapal, Amnesty International USA Americas advocacy director Amy Fischer said in a statement that "Friday's decision to block the termination of Title 42 is devastating for the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers at our border in need of protection. This outcome follows the dangerous pattern of some states using the U.S. legal system to prevent the [Biden] administration from ending xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies."

"Every day that Title 42 remains in place is another day that the United States continues to put politics over humanity," she continued, adding that congressional lawmakers "should redirect their efforts toward repairing and rebuilding the broken asylum system—not reinforce hateful legislation by leveraging public health and safety funds."

"Members of Congress must have the moral courage to oppose any amendments or legislation meant to keep this unlawful, hateful policy in place and block access to asylum," Fischer stressed.

In his injunction last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays—an appointee of then-President Donald Trump and a member of the right-wing Federalist Society—sided with 24 Republican-controlled states that argued the Biden administration's decision to terminate Title 42 violates the Administrative Procedures Act because it "failed to consider the effects of a Title 42 termination on immigration enforcement and the states."

Immigrant rights advocates argue that Title 42 forces people legally seeking asylum in the United States to face grave dangers in Mexican border cities, where Human Rights First has identified nearly 10,000 violent attacks on migrants, including kidnappings, torture, and rapes.

Activists vowed to keep fighting against the policy.

"This ruling is devastating for countless asylum-seekers and their families who will continue to be denied their due process and sent back to face violence, harm, and privation without ever having a chance to present their asylum case," Efrén C. Olivares, deputy legal director for immigrant justice at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement.

"While the ruling is a setback to the Biden administration's promise to rebuild our asylum system, they must fight on to keep these commitments," he added. "We also will continue to fight for a fair and humane asylum process for all those who seek protection."

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