Although he acted in the early days of his government to distance himself from the anti-immigration policies of his predecessor in the White House, the current President of the United States, Joe Biden, still relies on a measure put in place. place by Donald Trump to prevent thousands of migrants arriving on US territory across the border with Mexico.
Known as “Title 42” and treated as a public health order, the Trump administration’s decision cites “serious concern about the introduction of Covid-19 into the United States” as the justification for deportation immediate entry of people who attempt to enter the country in violation of travel restrictions or illegally. At the time, in March 2020, cases of coronavirus in the United States were already starting to increase.
As the measure speaks of “deportation” and not of “deportation”, the migrants it supervises do not even have the right to present their case to American courts and most are returned to Mexico within hours.
The Biden administration’s rationale for continuing to implement Trump’s resolve is that the measure gives the current administration time to implement deeper changes to the U.S. immigration system.
The number of people deported from US soil under the public health order now exceeds 445,000, according to data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In January alone, there were 62,383, the second-highest monthly figure since March 2020, when the measure went into effect. The record is in October, with 63,006 eviction cases.
The statistics take into account both those who entered the United States from the southern border (with Mexico) and those who entered through the northern border (with Canada). But the number of those who made it across the Canadian border is practically insignificant – in January, there were 16, while the other 62,367 passed through Mexico.
The measure requires that anyone caught in violation of the public health order be immediately returned to their home country – in most cases, Mexico itself. In circumstances where this deportation cannot be carried out quickly, migrants are held in establishments which in practice resemble prisons.
While the majority of arrests are of adults attempting to migrate on their own, the increase in the number of children and families has made it difficult to manage these units, which in the past has led the international community to criticize them. human rights violations in the United States.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told US broadcaster CNN anonymously that the situation is worsening due to the increasing number of border arrests, especially in south Texas.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the current DHS secretary – appointed by Biden, is the first Latin to take office – has been a spokesperson for the idea that policing in the Trump administration is only a tool that precedes more flexible policies on the topic.
On the other hand, the secretary and other authorities in the portfolio tried to defeat the idea that the entry of immigrants to the United States would be free under the Biden government. For that, even, the coronavirus also functions as a pretext to maintain tighter control.
“Due to the current pandemic, border restrictions remain in place and will be enforced,” Mayorkas said earlier this month, announcing the start of processing of thousands of asylum claims, which claimants have been forced to wait for. an American response to Mexico – this is also a controversial step taken by Trump.
Immigrant rights activists say, however, that the reasons put forward by the Biden government are not valid. “Using Title 42 as a justification for their ability to do good in the future also makes these children and families exhausted in the meantime,” said Alida Garcia, vice president of FWD, a bipartisan organization.
“They have to find a way to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he added.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday (23) that the new administration has yet to have time to make significant changes in the region – Biden took over a while ago more than a month on January 20.
During the presidential campaign, the Democrat promised to take a more humane approach than the previous government to immigration policies. In fact, there have been advances in this direction, such as the signing of a series of executive orders which, among other measures, aim to reunite immigrant families separated under the Trump administration and the suspension of the work of enlargement of the wall on the border with Mexico.
“I eliminate bad policies,” the president told reporters when he signed the decrees earlier this month.
It is not known if Title 42 is considered by the Democrat to be one of these “bad policies,” but there is an ongoing legal dispute over the conditions under which the ordinance can be applied.
In November, a lower court ruled that Title 42 cannot be used against unaccompanied children. Within the meaning of Justice, the law authorized the United States to “prohibit the introduction of persons”, but did not authorize their deportations. At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the leaders of the action, estimated at 13,000 the number of immigrant children deported from the United States since the implementation of the order of public health.
Before the end of Trump’s tenure, however, the US Department of Justice appealed the ruling on the grounds that it blocked the government from implementing “critical public health measures” designed to stem the spread of Covid- 19.
“In view of these public health risks, the director of the CDC [Centro de Controle e Prevenção de Doenças] determined that it is imperative to ban entry and deport foreigners [pela ordem] as soon as possible, ”says the record of the process, basing itself on the argument that border facilities are not properly equipped to allow for quarantine, isolation and social distance between detainees.
“Complainants are calling this the ‘backdoor to immigration policy’, while ignoring the fact that countries around the world have implemented emergency measures to help stem the spread of Covid-19, including the closure of its borders and the imposition of severe travel restrictions, ”he continues.
On January 29, nine days after Biden’s inauguration, the Washington Court of Appeals accepted the appeal and again authorized Trump’s full application of the measure.