On May 23, US President Joe Biden was expected to rescind Title 42, one of former President Donald Trump's toughest immigration policies. However, its annulment was blocked by a Louisiana judge on the grounds that the government did not follow the correct legal process. The continuation of the policy is expected to hit Mexico since it receives most of the deportees but has little resources to care for them.
In March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed the Title 42 policy, which prevents asylum seekers from applying for US protection and allows the US to send migrants to either their countries of origin or Mexico within the first few hours of their arrival. According to CDC authorities, the policy was necessary due to the increase in COVID-19 infections in the US. Since the policy's implementation, more than 1.8 million deporations have taken place, according to US government data.
In April 2022, US health authorities announced plans to rescind Title 42 this past May 23, especially as mask mandates have been lifted and US vaccination rates are high. However, this week Judge Robert Summerhays of the Louisiana Western District Court blocked the move, accusing the Biden administration of skipping legal proceedings. Summerhays argued that while the president can implement actions in emergencies, he cannot end them in the same manner. Revoking any policy must involve a notification and feedback process, which can take months to carry out. Consequently, the immigration policy will remain in force until this process is carried out, said Summerhays.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice announced that it will appeal the Court's decision. Nevertheless, the government will have to continue to enforce the policy until the appeal is complete. Justice Department Spokesman Anthony Coley argued that the policy was put in place due to fear of spreading COVID-19. However, the CDC says that asylum seekers and migrants no longer pose a risk. Additionally, Coley stressed that the decision is a legitimate exercise of CDC and should not be blocked, reported CNN.
"The ruling is wrong, inconsistent with the considered judgment of the CDC and should be immediately appealed by the administration. The lawsuit is the height of hypocrisy. The States that appealed seem only to want COVID-19 restrictions when it comes to asylum seekers," said Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Attorney.
Experts say that the continued enforcement of Title 42 will worsen Mexico’s migration issues. The country has so far received about 80 percent of the 1.5 million returned migrants. Because Mexico does not have the resources to continue receiving so many migrants, experts say that López Obrador’s government must fight for the lifting of Title 42 or negotiate that the US allocates more resources to Mexico’s migration units, reported El Economista.
According to US government data, 234,088 migrants arrived at the US-Mexico border in April 2022, a higher amount that the 221,000 arrivals in March. In April, 96,908 of the 234,088 migrants of different nationalities were returned to Mexico under the Title 42, even though Mexico has refused to accept migrants of other nationalities due to its lack of resouces.
US authorities say they expect a high number of immigrant arrivals this May, as there are currently an average of 7,400 daily arrivals. If the average is maintained the remainder of the month, this would result in 230,000 arrivals. Although no data has been released on how many migrants the US has deported to Mexico under Title 42 in May, authorities expected the figure to remain high, reported NBC News.