There are only a few hours left before a public health restriction from the pandemic era expires, drastically changing years’ worth of US immigration policy and posing the risk of pandemonium as an estimated tens of thousands of migrants gather near the US-Mexico border in anticipation.
Title 42, issued at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and purportedly to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, authorized authorities to promptly turn away immigrants at US borders. However, that will alter on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET when the public health emergency and Title 42 are scheduled to expire.
Following the order’s expiration, the following may happen at border crossings:
Title 8 will be back in effect
As a result, many migrants at the US-Mexico border were denied the opportunity to apply for asylum, and the processing time at the border was drastically slashed thanks to Title 42. However, Title 42 also had essentially no legal repercussions for migrants who crossed, so if they were turned back, they may attempt to do so repeatedly.
After Title 42 expires, the US government will switch back to Title 8, an outdated US law that, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, will have “more severe” repercussions for immigrants discovered to be entering the nation illegally.
In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has emphasized numerous times that immigrants detained under Title 8 authority may be subject to a quick deportation procedure known as “expedited removal” and a restriction on readmission for at least five years. Those who attempt to enter the US again may be charged with a crime, according to DHS.
However, because to the lengthy processing times for Title 8, police are faced with a significant issue when dealing with a high volume of border arrests. Because migrants could be rapidly ejected under Title 42, processing times were often around 30 minutes, whereas under Title 8, times may be over an hour.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, Title 8 continued to be employed alongside Title 42 after the latter’s introduction during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fiscal year 2022, more than 1.15 million persons were captured at the southern border under Title 8. During that time, Title 42 along the southern land boundary resulted in the expulsion of almost 1.08 million individuals.
There is a new border policy as well
Following this week’s repeal of Title 42, the government is also implementing new, stringent policy guidelines.
This includes implementing a new asylum law that will essentially prevent migrants who have transited via another nation from requesting refuge in the US. The regulation, which was first put forth earlier this year, will assume that migrants are not eligible for asylum in the US if they did not first seek protection in a nation they passed through en route to the border, such as Mexico. According to officials, immigrants who schedule an appointment through the CBP One app will not be subject to this rule.
The government also intends to send illegal border crossers from Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua back to Mexico, making this the first instance in which the US has done so.
Senior administration officials have emphasized the importance of the measures in motivating people to enter the US through legal channels. This includes providing access to an app enabling migrants to schedule an appointment to present themselves at a port of entry and parole programs for eligible nations to seek to enter the US.
Though the timetable is unknown, the State Department also intends to build around 100 regional processing centres in the Western Hemisphere where immigrants can petition to immigrate to the US.
“We have, however, coupled this with a robust set of consequences for noncitizens who, despite having these options available to them, continue to cross unlawfully at the border,” a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday.