The United States will end a comprehensive, pandemic-related deportation policy that has effectively shut down the US asylum system on the border with Mexico, Interior Minister Alejandro Mayorkas said on Friday.
The section 42 public health scheme will apply until May 23, Mayorkas said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the order in March 2020 when countries around the world closed their borders amid fears of covid-19, said it was no longer needed to limit the spread of the virus.
“After considering the current public health conditions and the increased availability of tools to combat covid-19 [such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics]The CDC director general has ruled that an order suspending the right to import migrants into the United States is no longer necessary, “the CDC said in a separate statement.
Republican President Donald Trump’s administration continued to renew Section 42 – a Second World War action measure on communicable diseases – until his term in office ended, with Democrat Joe Biden’s administration holding the measure in place for more than a year since his inauguration.
The Biden administration had a deadline on Friday whether it would announce whether it would renew or end the practice, its motivation seems to diminish through a relaxation of COVID-reducing measures throughout the country.
The United States plans to handle the expected influx
The White House expects a influx of people to the Title 42 border, an order from the covid era that has blocked more than a million migrants at the US-Mexico border is lifted, said communications manager Kate Bedingfield on Wednesday.
Biden White House is planning for several unforeseen events around the policy, she said without specifying.
Mayorkas said in his statement that more than 600 law enforcement officials have already been relocated to the border.
“We have put in place a comprehensive government-wide strategy to address any potential increase in the number of migrants encountered at our border,” Mayorkas said. “We are increasing our capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum applications and quickly remove those who do not qualify for protection.
The administration will expand its vaccination program at the border, he added.
More than one million migrants have been deported under the order since its introduction in March 2020 at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. According to the policy, US border agents quickly send people back to Mexico or other countries, often within hours of being arrested, without giving them a chance to ask for protection, a process that human rights groups say illegally denies them access to asylum.
In a public square in Reynosa, Mexico, nearly 2,000 migrants camp in tents or under tarpaulins across the U.S. border from McAllen, Texas. Most are from South and Central America and the Caribbean and have fled violence or persecution in their home countries.
On Thursday morning, under a sparkling sun, a dozen migrants lined up to see volunteer health workers in the camp. A group of women fried fish over an open flame and children ran around, playing with balls, competing with scooters and sweeping rubbish.
Aile Rodriguez, 32, has a family in McAllen but has been waiting since August last year at the camp with her three children, eight, 13 and 15 years old. She said they fled Honduras because of gang threats against their family and hoped to seek asylum in the United States. “I want to go in legally,” she said. “That’s why we’ve suffered here for seven months.”
Glendy Juana de Leon, 30, of Guatemala, said she was denied a chance to seek asylum when she crossed the border in July. She has spent the nine months since her deportation to the Reynosa camp with her eight-year-old son. She said she left home after death threats from her husband, who is in jail for domestic violence but is scheduled to be released soon.
“I have all my documents, from the hospital, from the Guatemalan police, but they did not look at any of them,” she said. “If God wills, they will change,” she said, “and ask us why we fled.”
Thousands are waiting
On the other side of the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, opposite San Diego, Enrique Lucero, the municipal director of migrant services, said he estimates that there are thousands of migrants waiting to apply for asylum.
“This gives them hope,” said Jose Maria Garcia, head of Tijuana’s Movimiento Juventud 2000 hostel, referring to plans to lift the 42nd title.
Garcia and other immigrant advocates have long criticized the policy, cheering for its end. But Garcia acknowledged that the decision could strain the border’s already cramped shelters if more migrants head north.
“Most shelters already have capacity,” he said.
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Thursday that ending Title 42 would “effectively open our borders wide” and “trigger a humanitarian and security crisis we have never seen.”
Republicans are likely to focus on each influx at the border as the party tries to win back one or both houses of Congress in the midterm elections in November.
Statement by the advocacy group American Immigration Council:
Title 42 caused chaos along the border, inflicted serious damage on innocent people seeking our protection, and weakened our position on the world stage.
We commend the decision of the Biden administration to finally lift this terrible policy. https://t.co/QCT4C3PqJD
But rep. Judy Chu of California described the order as “a disgraceful time in our country’s history,” while her Texas Democratic colleague Veronica Escobar said that Title 42 “effectively eliminated access to legal asylum in our country.”
“It’s time to end it,” Escobar said.
Esteban Moctezuma, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, said at an event in Washington that if Section 42 is lifted, migrants who do not seek protection should be sent home to prevent a “revolving door” at the border.