Saturday, May 21, 2022

Biden ends Title 42, a controversial pandemic border policy

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Shreya Christinahttps://cafe-madrid.com
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The Biden administration announced Friday that it is lifting controversial pandemic-related border restrictions, under which the US has expelled thousands of migrants without giving them access to their legal right to seek asylum.

The so-called Title 42 policy, which was first introduced by the Trump administration in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, will end on May 23. It has enabled the US to deport migrants without a hearing before an immigration judge, more than 1.7 million times, with many being caught trying to cross the border multiple times. The policy has been a source of internal strife at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where scientists initially opposed its implementation† it even urged a senior State Department official, Harold Koh, to reprimand the administration when he quit his job.

The CDC says in its friday order that preventing migrants from entering the US “is no longer necessary to protect public health,” although off-duty public health experts have long argued that it never needed† It is a major change in US policy for migrants who have been trapped for years in northern Mexico, where they… target of violence and extortion

It also poses challenges for officials of the Biden administration, who face the daunting task of safely and humanely processing what is likely to be a sharp increase in the number of migrants arriving at the southern border in the coming months. arrives. The administration is preparing for a worst-case scenario of no fewer than 18,000 migrants arriving daily after title 42 is lifted, an increase on average about 5,900 in February. Meanwhile, officials will also have to fend off inevitable attacks from Republicans who like to falsely portray President Joe Biden as a “open bordersDemocrat ahead of the midterm elections.

I discussed some of those challenges with Tyler Moran, a senior adviser on migration to Biden who resigned in late January. She was previously the executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Immigration Hub. Moran now works as an independent consultant. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you anticipate this policy change affecting the number of migrants arriving at the southern border?

First and foremost, people will have the right to apply for asylum. We don’t know what the numbers will look like and there is a lot of uncertainty. That is why the administration plans and plays out different scenarios at the border and what resources are needed for this.

The CDC’s determination that there is no longer a public health justification for deporting migrants does not mean the borders are open. Not everyone will apply for asylum and not everyone is eligible for asylum. Some people will enter the country pending their court date and others will be deported because they either do not apply for asylum or do not qualify for it.

The number of repeat encounters at the border has increased significantly as a result of Title 42, so we should expect those encounters to decrease. On the other hand, cartels and smuggling networks are very sophisticated and will misrepresent any change in US recruiting policy. Human trafficking is part of their business model. So there’s no doubt that they would use any shift in Title 42 to tell everyone to come.

Therefore, the government has a multi-agency plan to deal with any increase in migration. The administration is now not only prepared to process people in an orderly manner, but is also implementing strategies launched last year, including addressing the push factors forcing people to leave their homes, creating more legal channels. for people to migrate and work with countries in the region to track down smugglers.

What needs to happen before Title 42 is lifted to ensure immigrants are processed safely and humanely at the border?

Much has already been planned and lessons learned from last year. The plan involves propelling personnel and resources to the border – and having the capacity to decompress a sector to avoid overcrowding at border patrol stations and ensure orderly processing. That means moving people to other sectors of the border and collaborating with other agencies for transportation, health care, sanitation and other resources.

DHS recently announced that Southwestern Border Coordination Center to coordinate inter-agency planning, operations and support. Having DHS physically in the room with other desks makes a huge difference. It provides real-time troubleshooting. And you shouldn’t underestimate the ways the federal government can be pigeonholed without deliberate coordination.

Do you think the administration gives itself enough time to implement those systems with a May deadline?

I do, because they’ve been planning for months, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get messy. The White House is deeply involved in leading an inter-agency process to ensure it has all hands on deck.

Why do you think this decision to lift Title 42 comes at this particular time?

We knew it would come someday. The CDC reviews the order every two months. The president indicated in the State of the Union address that due to the progress made in the fight against COVID, we are going back to a more normal routine. That includes abolishing mask mandates, people going back to school and working, and that also means getting the immigration system back to normal. The administration is also establishing a vaccination regimen for people entering the country.

There are many public health experts outside the CDC who have said there was never a legitimate public health rationale for Title 42. What do you think of those statements?

That they speak from a place of knowledge and have the right to share their medical opinion.

Republicans are already gearing up to make this an electoral issue heading for the midterm elections, regardless of how things turn out once the policy is lifted. How should Democrats anticipate and respond to those GOP critiques?

Republicans shouted open borders when Title 42 went into effect and a million people were evicted. So their attitude is not based on facts; it’s just an electoral strategy. I will note that during the 2018 midterm elections, many Republicans walked on a “caravan” of migrants who came to the border and lost their races.

It is important for Democrats to make it clear to the American public where they stand for a well-managed border and a fair, orderly system. The majority of the public supports this approach. If the Democrats don’t say anything, they will be penalized because the Republicans can fill the void.

The administration can do a lot to solve the immigration system, but there is a need for legislative action to update the immigration laws, to finance [US Citizenship and Immigration Services] to assess asylum applications efficiently and fairly and to create a well-deserved path to citizenship for those who are here. But Republicans have blocked those efforts.

Looking ahead, migration at the southern border has typically decreased during the hot summer months in previous years. But do you think migration patterns have changed?

If you only look at last year, seasonal trends are a thing of the past. There has been a very significant shift in migration, both in the sending countries and in the composition of the people.

In 2014, it was mostly people from the Northern Triangle of Central America who fled due to violence. Now we have massive movement across the Western Hemisphere attributed to corruption and instability, but also because of Covid economies and climate change.

The government’s approach recognizes that these challenges cannot be solved by border policy alone – or even US policy. We need to work with partners in the region to develop a hemispheric strategy. That means other countries take in refugees, strengthen their asylum systems, create more legal channels for people to work or be reunited with family, and attack cartels and smugglers that prey on people’s hopes.

While the US must have a robust asylum policy, we must also recognize that not everyone who comes to our border seeks asylum and we need better solutions to address the other reasons that have forced them to migrate.

What is your assessment of the progress made by the government in its regional approach to migration?

There is a strong commitment to creating new legal channels, protecting the region and increasing the number of refugees, but this will all take time.

I’ll give you one example. The government has reinstated the Central American Minors (CAM), which provide a safer, legal path for unaccompanied minors to migrate.

The Trump administration shut down the program and it took time to get the systems back in place; the program relies on the same refugee resettlement system that the former government also gutted and worked to resettle Afghan allies; and Covid forced embassies to operate with reduced capacity. So the current government had to start all over again during a pandemic.

Now that the infrastructure has been rebuilt, we should see many more children processed under the CAM program this year.

You come from the world of immigrant advocacy, but you also served in the administration, which was at times at odds with immigrant advocates over border policy. How do you reconcile the interests of both sides?

None of these challenges are easy. I think there is agreement on the future of asylum processing. Our asylum system is simply not built for the number of people seeking protection and there is a need for legal services to help people navigate the system. There is also a need to collectively think about solutions for the people who migrate for economic reasons and/or climate change.

There is coordination with the legislative changes that are urgently needed. There simply aren’t enough visas — or the right kind of visas — to meet the demand for work or family reunification, but Congress hasn’t updated immigration law in 30 years.

Republicans who complain about the border have a responsibility to do their jobs so that employers have the workers they need and it doesn’t take 20 years to reunite with a family member. They also need to ensure that [US Citizenship and Immigration Services] has sufficient funds to clear the backlog, process visas and assess asylum applications. Without this, the administration works with one hand behind the back.

The administration can do a lot, but they cannot solve the immigration system alone.

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