“Biden has continued much of the Trump administration’s approach to immigration: separating families, overfilling detention facilities, and plainly telling people to stay away. One such holdover policy is Title 42.
Invoked by Trump in March 2020, Title 42 is a section of the Public Health Service Act that grants federal health officials broad discretion to enact disease mitigation measures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used it to issue an order barring certain kinds of arrivals to the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada while permitting other forms of international movement to continue. It allows Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials to expel migrants immediately upon arrival.”
“Migrants expelled from the U.S. under Title 42 face hostile conditions similar to those subjected to another Trump policy, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Known as “Remain in Mexico,” MPP relegated asylum seekers south of the border while they awaited decisions in their immigration cases. There, many faced murder, rape, and torture. Biden did away with the policy just weeks ago, but his continued operation of Title 42 contradicts his campaign promise to “restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do.”
Those dangers to migrants continue under Biden. “These individuals are being pushed back into very dangerous environments in northern Mexico,” says Zak. “Migrants are at very serious risk of being exploited by gangs and traffickers.” He adds that “Human Rights First has documented 492 instances of publicly reported attacks and kidnappings against asylum seekers in Mexico since Biden took office,” many against those expelled under Title 42.
In spite of this harsh approach, Title 42 has likely exacerbated the very issue it sought to tackle: the high volume of asylum seekers crossing the border. Zak says that the recidivism rate—individuals who were apprehended, expelled, and apprehended again by CBP—has “skyrocketed.” That rate “tended to hover around 10 percent” prior to Title 42 and has hit 38 percent as of May 2021. Zak says this is partially because “individuals (particularly single adults) are expelled extremely quickly,” thus encouraging multiple crossings. There is also no formal penalty for repeat crossings under Title 42. With that uptick in mind, the reasons for increased apprehensions at the border become clearer—and Biden’s approach to immigration less so.”