~ by Rhina Guidos – Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has confirmed that it will lift a public health measure in May that was put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that has kept asylum seekers out.
Catholic groups that support immigrants have long been calling for an end to Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act, which the Trump administration began using in March 2020 as infections of the coronavirus began to surge in the U.S.
April 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website, “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 in the United States is no longer necessary.”
Under the provision, Border Patrol agents were instructed to expel anyone caught trying to illegally enter the U.S. instead of processing them under existing immigration law for those seeking asylum.
The Biden administration has taken heat from Catholic groups, among others, for keeping Title 42 in place. Administration officials said it was not immigration policy but a health measure and that the government would take cues from the CDC on when to end it.
Many are expecting an increase in migrants looking for asylum at the southern border when the measure is lifted.
Women religious and their supporters protested outside the White House in December urging Title 42’s demise.
On March 30, 14 Jesuit law and immigrant advocacy institutions – including Jesuit law school deans, the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Border Justice Initiative at Gonzaga Law School – called for Title 42’s end, saying it was “unlawful, dangerous, and inflicts profound suffering on extremely vulnerable people.”
There’s “no present public health justification for its continuation,” they added in a joint letter to President Joe Biden and key members of his administration.”
The U.S. “must rescind Title 42 immediately so that no one is denied the right to seek protection,” Giulia McPherson, Jesuit Refugee Service Director of Advocacy and Operations, said in the letter.
“We know there will be much political theater surrounding this decision, but we urge the administration to remain focused on upholding our nation’s legal and humanitarian obligations to those seeking safety at America’s golden doors,” she said.
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