The Biden administration will end Trump-era pandemic restrictions that effectively blocked migrants from entering the United States on May 23, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.
Former President Donald Trump invoked a public health authority, known as Title 42, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a move that was immediately met with skepticism by immigrant advocates, public health experts, and even officials within the administration who believed it to be driven by political motivations. Yet the Biden administration continued to lean on Title 42 despite objections from its allies.
“In consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this termination will be implemented on May 23, 2022, to enable DHS time to implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as scaling up a program to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants and prepare for resumption of regular migration under Title 8,” the CDC said in a highly anticipated announcement.
“After considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC Director has determined that an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary,” the agency added.
Migrant families and single adults will continue to be turned away at the US-Mexico border until that date, barring exceptions.
The lifting of the pandemic-restrictions is expected to have immediate ramifications and would mean a return to traditional immigration protocols that have been in place for decades.
The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for a worst-case scenario of up to 18,000 people trying to cross the border daily, a number sure to overwhelm the already full border facilities.
The department is preparing temporary facilities to handle an increase of people, deploying hundreds of officers to assist, and leveraging partnerships with other federal agencies, among other measures. This week, DHS also began offering Covid-19 vaccines to migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border and is expected to grow that program in the coming weeks.
With the lifting of Title 42, migrants might be detained or removed if they don’t have an asylum claim. Migrants may also be released into the US while they go through their immigration proceedings, and if released, might be enrolled in alternative detention programs for continued monitoring.
“Once the Title 42 Order is no longer in place, DHS will process individuals encountered at the border pursuant to Title 8, which is the standard procedure we use to place individuals in removal proceedings,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Friday.
“Nonetheless, we know that smugglers will spread misinformation to take advantage of vulnerable migrants. Let me be clear: those unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed,” he added.