EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – As the nation comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic, two influential Senate Democrats are calling on President Biden to stop expelling vulnerable migrants through a controversial public health rule.
“Title 42 has been nothing short of disastrous for immigrant families seeking asylum from the horrors in their own countries,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said. “It is unacceptable that this policy continues to be used indiscriminately to remove migrants with valid refuge claims from our Southern border.”
Title 42 is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulation dating back to March 2020 allowing for the immediate expulsion of newly arrived migrants to prevent the cross-border spread of COVID-19. Federal officials have expelled more than a million migrants under the rule, including some families with small children.
“I continue to be disappointed, deeply disappointed in the administration’s response. Title 42 goes against everything this country stands for,” Schumer said Thursday in a press call to pressure Biden into rescinding the rule. “The United States is supposed to welcome refugees with open arms, not put them in additional danger by denying them a chance to plead their case and leaving them at the mercy of criminals and smugglers.
One of the families recently turned away from the Southern border on Title 42 grounds consisted of a Ukrainian mom and her three children, he said.
Biden has said he hasn’t rescinded the rule because he’s following the CDC’s advice. The CDC in February renewed the rule for two additional months.
But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, said it’s Biden’s prerogative to terminate the policy.
“The CDC, at the end of the day, is part of the administration. I have no doubt if the administration decided it would no longer use this policy, that the CDC would follow,” Menendez said in the same press call.
He said Title 42 has failed to accomplish its goal because expelled migrants will attempt to cross again, avoiding apprehension and U.S. government screening.
“The continued use of Title 42 to expel migrants without screening has created life-threatening conditions and significantly increased the number of dangerous border crossings,” Menendez said. “In many cases, it has also increased the public health risks that the order claims to address. It is neither humane nor effective in managing migration. In fact, it’s a threat to our border security.”
Menendez said he and colleagues have requested a meeting with the president to address immigration policy going forward. Despite ports of entry effectively being closed to those who wish to claim asylum, the United States encountered more than 2 million migrants who came across the border in the calendar year 2021 alone.
“Certainly, they have had an unexpected (migrant) surge at the border and their trying to find their way in the midst of all of the other challenges they’re facing now,” he said, referring to the pandemic and economy. “I understand to some degree the need for space, but that space is now closed. There has been enough time to figure out how one appropriately processes those seeking asylum under our laws.”
Members of pro-immigrant nonprofits and the American Civil Liberties Union also joined the call.
Haitian Bridge Alliance Executive Director Guerline Jozef said Title 42 has facilitated the deportation of 20,000 Haitian migrants back to a country that has suffered natural disasters and ongoing political upheaval.
“America has a robust system. We have the resources and communities who are willing to welcome people with dignity – those fleeing from persecution, war, disasters and dangers,” she said.