Biden admin extends Title 42; Abbott raises over half a million dollars for border wall

Title 42

After weeks of consideration, the Biden administration will extend the Trump-era border policy, called Title 42, that allows the government to prevent the entry of and quickly expel nearly all migrants. The rule was originally enacted by Trump’s CDC in March 2020 under the guise of preventing the spread of Covid-19. Under Title 42, even legitimate asylum-seekers are turned away by border officials.

In a year of Title 42, of more than 650,000 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, fewer than 1% have been able to seek protection, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

The new order, released last week, continues to exempt unaccompanied children from the Title 42 process (an exemption not allowed by the Trump administration).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an order under Sections 362 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act, and associated implementing regulations, that temporarily suspends the introduction of certain noncitizens based on the Director’s determination that introduction of such noncitizens, regardless of their country of origin, migrating through Canada and Mexico into the United States creates a serious danger of the introduction of COVID-19 into the United States, and the danger is so increased by the introduction of such noncitizens that a temporary suspension is necessary to protect the public health.

Numerous civil rights groups and immigration advocates announced they are returning to court to challenge the protocol.

“It’s clear there’s no end in sight to Title 42 and we will pursue an immediate injunction,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and lead attorney on the case. “The Biden administration asked for some time to repair the damage done by the Trump administration to the asylum process, but it has now been seven months. That’s a more than sufficient amount of time.”

  • Further reading: “Q&A: US Title 42 Policy to Expel Migrants at the Border,” Human Rights Watch.

In an effort to deter repeat border crossings, the Biden administration is now flying migrants from the U.S. to southern Mexico under Title 42 authority. According to the Washington Post, the policy has resulted in Mexican officers forcing hundreds of Central American migrants into a remote part of Guatemala, “stranding them with no place to stay and no way to return to their countries of origin.” None are given the opportunity to apply for asylum in the U.S. or Mexico before being expelled.

“It’s clear the Biden administration is pivoting, from trying to add capacity to process migrants in the United States back towards a deterrence policy that aims to move migrants as far as possible away from the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Cris Ramón, an immigration analyst and consultant in Washington.

The UN Refugee Agency is calling on the Biden administration to lift Title 42 and halt all expulsion flights to the Mexican interior.

Abbott’s immigration blame game

A federal judge paused Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order directing Texas State Troopers to pull over any vehicle suspected of carrying undocumented migrants. Abbott instituted the policy on the unfounded basis that “the admittance and movement of migrants…is exposing Texans to COVID-19 and creating a public health disaster in Texas” (PDF). Any vehicles found to be carrying migrants “who pose a risk of carrying COVID-19” would be rerouted to a port of entry, or seized and impounded by the state.

Two weeks ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland sued to block the order:

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Fact check: “No, the surge in Covid cases across the U.S. is not due to migrants or immigrants,” NBC News.

  • “Republicans raise money on Facebook by tying migrant influx to covid surge,” WaPo

Meanwhile, Texas is using taxpayer donations and dark money to continue to build Trump’s border wall. The state’s Dept. of Transportation has dedicated $25 million to pay for the construction of just two miles of concrete barrier. The state Senate is additionally allocating $250 million for further construction, set to be taken from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s budget.

The rest of the funding is being solicited from the public. As of the end of June, the effort raised $459,000. It is unclear who is giving the money, however, as the state is not requiring that donors identify themselves with their real names.

Remain in Mexico

A Trump-appointed judge ruled that the Biden administration must reinstate Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy on Friday. Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a member of the Federalist Society, ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s memo rescinding the policy was “arbitrary and capricious for a lack of reasoned decisionmaking” (PDF). He also cited the Trump administration’s agreement with Texas to “consult” with the state “and consider its views before taking any action” that would modify immigration enforcement.

Further reading:

“A Brutal Crackdown in Nicaragua Is Fueling A New Wave of Migrants to the US,” Vice News

“Garland reverses Trump-era immigration order in move that will cut huge backlog of asylum cases.” NBC News

“Biden administration sued over substandard conditions at emergency sites for migrant teens,” CBS News

“Builder Of $30 Million Private Section Of Trump Border Wall Reportedly Looking For Buyers,” HuffPost