Washington, D.C. — Today, the Biden administration announced that, effective May 23rd, it is lifting the Trump-era Title 42 policy that prevented people fleeing danger and harm in their countries of origin from even applying for asylum in the United States. Following the announcement, Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
Over the past two years, Title 42 has been used more than 1.7 million times to turn people seeking asylum away from this country, back to the danger they were fleeing or to border towns where they are vulnerable to dangerous and violent conditions. Human Rights First reported that nearly 10,000 cases of kidnapping, rape, extortion, and assault have taken place as a result of this inhumane policy.
I saw its cruel repercussions firsthand when I went down to the border near Del Rio, Texas, last fall, where I saw Haitians in need of refuge unable to apply for asylum, camping out under a bridge, exposed to the elements, and subject to violence from both criminal gangs and the government officials who are supposed to uphold the law.
While Title 42 was invoked by the Trump administration under the guise of protecting public health, experts have called it “scientifically baseless and politically motivated.” The Biden administration is saving lives and protecting thousands from violence by lifting Title 42. This action comes on the heels of a new interim final rule that seeks to process asylum claims fairly and efficiently.
Lifting Title 42 is an important step in the right direction to increase access to the asylum system for all. It builds on a larger effort to modernize a system that must respect human rights, ensure due process, and protect public health. For centuries, the United States has been a beacon of hope to those seeking safety from persecution and violence. That beacon was diminished, if not nearly extinguished, during the Trump years. It is heartening to see President Biden bring back the light.