WASHINGTON — You’ve likely heard a lot lately about Title 42, the pandemic-related public health policy that kept over a million migrants seeking asylum out of the U.S. last year.
President Joe Biden has said that will end next month, on May 23rd, frustrating those who are concerned about a mass migration event at the border. So what is happening right now to prepare for the spike?
HISTORY OF SEEKING ASYLUM
Seeking asylum is permitted by U.S. law and is typically understood as escaping persecution from another country.
During the pandemic, however, the Trump and Biden administrations expanded the authority of the Department of Homeland Security to remove asylum-seeking individuals because of COVID-19 concerns.
That is what Title 42 is generally understood to be.
FRUSTRATION OVER CHANGE
“This isn’t our first time warning about this,” House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters on Capitol Hill at a recent briefing about Title 42.
"You are already seeing mayhem down at the border," McCarthy added.
The policy change, though, is frustrating conservatives like McCarthy, as well as moderate Democratic senators like Senator Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Senator Jon Tester of Montana.
Their concern is that more than 1.6 million migrants were expelled under Title 42 in the last year or so from the United States and in theory, many will soon be able to try again, possibly overwhelming the border.
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION'S PLAN
So what do we know about President Biden's plan for the border after this controversial rule goes away next month?
For one, the Department of Homeland Security is acknowledging an increase in numbers is “likely.”
As a result, preparations are underway to increase coordination with non-profits to ensure proper shelter and supplies. DHS is also creating new border facilities in key areas ahead of the expected surge.
The Department is also redirecting employees to the region to help with the processing of migrants. Additional preparations are underway so that air and ground transportation is available to send migrants to less crowded facilities should issues arise in one area.
WHY TITLE 42 IS ENDING?
If you are wondering why the policy is ending, Physicians for Human Rights recently testified in front of Congress saying COVID-19 should have never been an excuse to deny people help.
“These exclusionary practices are not now, and were not ever based on sound public health principles,” Dr. Adam Richards said.
Progressive groups have pressured the Biden administration to end Title 42 for over a year. Expect to hear more on the issue in the coming weeks.
A COVID-19 funding bill in Congress remains stalled because some in the Senate want the president to change his mind on Title 42.