News about Title 42 is hitting the headlines in recent news. Democrats and Republicans are arguing about the possible removal of provisions that were put in place in March 2020, alleging the impact of immigration at the border will be greater than our country’s infrastructure can handle. What is Title 42, and how does it impact immigration?
Title 42 is not a new provision. It is part of U.S. health law as Section 262 of U.S. Code Title 42. In short, it allows the Director for Disease Control at the CDC to limit the entry of foreign individuals into the U.S. when “there is a serious danger to the introduction of [a communicable] disease into the U.S.” In 2020, when COVID-19 was beginning to spread worldwide, and there was no vaccine nor proven effective treatment for the virus, the Trump Administration, in cooperation with the CDC, implemented Title 42 to stop the entry of asylum seekers into the States immediately.
It is important to note that Title 42 does not stop all people from crossing the border. Of course, it does not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, their spouses and children, or U.S. military personnel. It also does not apply to people who arrive at a port of entry with valid travel documents. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security retains the right to allow entry for any person on the grounds of “consideration of significant law enforcement, office and public safety, humanitarian, and public health interests.” As a result, Title 42 primarily impacts asylum seekers.
On April 1, 2022, the CDC announced plans to discontinue the Title 42 order. According to the agency, the threats that existed in 2020 are no longer relevant as vaccines and treatments are available to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. This falls in line with the termination of other safety measures, such as eliminating rules for wearing face masks, returning children to school, and removing restrictions for limited occupancy and indoor dining. However, more than a dozen states fear the removal of Title 42 enforcement will open the floodgates to immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and are suing the CDC to prevent next month’s termination from implementation.
While Judge Robert Summerhays, a federal judge in Louisiana, temporarily blocks the Biden Administration from terminating the provisions, the future of Title 42 remains unclear. The Biden Administration seems intent on continuing to seek the provision’s termination, while GOP lawmakers and a handful of states are determined to fight to keep the restrictions in place.
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