The End of Title 42: A Shift in U.S. Asylum Policy at the Border Signals Challenges Ahead

As the expiration date of Title 42 approaches, a pandemic-era measure that facilitated the swift expulsion of millions of migrants at the Southwest border, both the Biden administration and state officials in the United States are preparing for a potential surge in asylum seekers. Simultaneously, House Republicans are pushing for a border security package reminiscent of the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies, including the resumption of border wall construction.
 Title 42
Texas National Guard troops set up razor wire in El Paso, Texas. Officials are anticipating a wave of immigrants on Thursday night, with the end of the U.S. government’s COVID-era Title 42 policy.
John Moore/Getty Images

Navigating Immigration Challenges

The Biden administration has been actively addressing immigration challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border through the implementation of parole programs and the establishment of processing centers in Central America. These initiatives aim to encourage an orderly immigration process while ensuring proper screening and vetting. Additionally, the administration has deployed a significant number of personnel to the border. Despite these efforts, critics, including Republicans, Democrats representing border states, and state officials, have expressed concerns about the lack of federal preparedness as the expiration of Title 42 looms.

Anticipating Impacts

Title 42, a public health policy employed to expel migrants during health emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic, was initially implemented by the Trump administration and continued under the Biden administration based on federal court orders. Over 2.5 million migrants were expelled under this policy. Cities in Texas, including Brownsville, Laredo, and El Paso, have already declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the policy’s end. Furthermore, Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs of Arizona has unveiled a strategy allowing for the mobilization of emergency resources if necessary.

Legislative Efforts

In the U.S. Senate, lawmakers from both parties are working on a bill that would grant the Biden administration temporary authority for two years to expel migrants, similar to the provisions of Title 42. Supporters of this bipartisan bill include Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. However, it is uncertain whether the bill will garner the necessary 60 votes to pass.

On the other hand, House Republicans are also advancing their own border-related legislation. The Secure the Border Act of 2023, known as H.R. 2, is expected to pass in the House of Representatives on the same day Title 42 expires. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, emphasizes the need for responsible and sensible solutions. The bill entails restrictions on an app used by migrants to schedule asylum appointments, the resumption of border wall construction, and the allocation of funds for retention bonuses and the hiring of 22,000 border patrol officers.

The White House has vowed to veto the House Republicans’ bill, indicating its opposition. Moreover, given the political landscape, the bill is also unlikely to gain traction in the Senate. As the expiration of Title 42 draws near, the U.S. faces an uncertain future in its asylum policy and border security measures, necessitating thoughtful consideration and collaboration to address the complex challenges at hand.

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