What Is Title 42 & What Does It Mean for Migrants at the U.S./Mexico Border?

Lead Photo: Credit: Luis Diaz Devesa/Getty Images
Credit: Luis Diaz Devesa/Getty Images
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Title 42 is coming to an end on Thursday, May 11 at 11:59 p.m. But what does it all mean for migrants coming to the U.S. seeking asylum and why are people rushing to get into the country before the deadline? Let us explain.

In 2020, then-President Trump enacted the controversial policy Title 42 under the guise of public health reasons in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The border policy essentially suspended the right to seek asylum and allowed US border officials to turn away migrants without due process but (and this is key) without facing future consequences beyond their expulsion from the U.S. Still, activists and public health experts denounced Title 42 as unnecessarily harsh. 

Many Latine and immigrant leaders were skeptical when newly elected President Biden promised to deliver humane immigration reform policies following his 2020 presidential win. What happened is that the Biden Administration instead continued to enforce the border policy, with Vox reporting in April 2021 that 618,000 migrants were turned away since Title 42 was enacted as a policy. 

Now Title 42 is ending and stricter new measures are starting to be rolled out under Title 8.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Biden Administration has been preparing for the end of Title 42 for a bit more than a year. The policy was supposed to expire in December 2022, but Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a hold on Title 42’s end, per CNN.

With Title 42 ending, the Biden Administration is basically reverting back to Title 8, which allows migrants more time to seek asylum but will come with “strict penalties, including five- and 10-year bans on reentry for those deported.” The U.S. is also currently amping up security at the U.S./Mexico border in preparation for the influx of migrants and refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. before Title 42 expires at midnight. 

CNN states that there are currently 550 troops, 1,400 DHS personnel, 1,500 Department of Defense personnel, and 1,000 asylum officials at the border in preparation for Title 42’s expiration. And so far, according to CBS, the U.S. Border Patrol turned away an estimated 10,000 migrants at the US-Mexico border earlier this week.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has also issued a stern warning for migrants who want to enter the U.S. by saying, “To people who are thinking of making their journey to our southern border, know this: The smugglers care only about profit, not people. They do not care about you or your well-being. Do not believe their lies.”

At the end of the day, migrants or refugees who are seeking asylum in the U.S. due to human rights violations, conflict, or just better economic opportunities for themselves and their families, deserve grace and kindness instead of being turned away at the U.S/Mexico border. After all, the U.S. has been key when it comes to interventions that have destabilized Latin America for their benefit, which has led many to flee in the first place.