Jesuit Refugee Service/USA expresses deep disappointment in the recent decision by a federal court in Louisiana to temporarily block the termination of Title 42, a Trump-era public health authority that expels people seeking asylum at the border back to danger. This decision comes at a time when the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations, and persecution has now reached a record 100 million globally, as announced today by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
“This decision will only further harm thousands of asylum seekers who have been patiently waiting to petition for asylum in the United States legally,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “Two years after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. is prepared to process these families and individuals safely and there is no reason for further delay. Today should have been the day the U.S. recommitted to being a beacon for the world, providing safety for the growing number of people fleeing persecution and violence around the world.”
Scheduled to have taken effect on May 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intention to terminate Title 42 last month. This decision was accompanied by a whole-of-government strategy that includes a commitment by the Administration to increase capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum requests, and implement additional COVID-19 protocols.
“We must remember that Title 42 disproportionately impacts Black people seeking asylum, especially Haitians, who have been deported to their home country at increasing frequency without the opportunity to petition for asylum,” said Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy. “During a recent trip to Mexico, I heard first-hand accounts from Haitians who experienced unspeakable violence and discrimination in their home country and during their journey to safety. They must be afforded the opportunity to plead their case for asylum.”
JRS/USA commends the Administration for responding swiftly with an intent to appeal the federal court decision and urges them to continue to advocate for termination of this harmful policy. In addition, Congress must prevent any effort to reinstate Title 42 including introduction of legislation that would force the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and DHS to continue unlawful Title 42 expulsions of individuals and families seeking protection, in contradiction to the CDC’s determination that Title 42 is not necessary to protect public health.