One year ago, a restriction called “Title 42,” which allows US authorities to expel all migrants at the border including asylum seekers legally petitioning for protection, was put into place as part of a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. JRS/USA has continued to assert that these restrictions are not only unnecessary to protect public health, but unduly deny our legal and moral obligation to help those seeking safety.
In this last year, the US has turned back thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, including children, with very few exceptions. These individuals, families, and children are not afforded the opportunity to present their claim for asylum, but instead are immediately returned to Mexico where they face uncertain and often dangerous living conditions. Many contend with homelessness and the threat of kidnapping and violence. JRS/USA reported on the negative impacts to the individuals who are sent back to Mexico in our report Stranded: Stranded: The Impact of US Policies on Asylum Seekers.
“A year after restrictions were put into place, thousands of people legally seeking safety continue to be turned back at our southern border,” said Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA Director of Advocacy. “Rather than suspend the entire asylum process, we urge the US to put measures in place that manage risks to public health, but that do not deny persons seeking international protection from doing so.”
Since assuming office in January 2021, President Biden has taken some steps to rebuild the US asylum system, but the US government is still enforcing Title 42. In response to a court challenge, the Centers for Disease Control released a notice in February 2021 that temporarily halted expulsions of unaccompanied children under Title 42, but thousands of people are still being turned away.