Biden lifts public health border protections with CDC support

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed support last Friday for the Biden Administration ending Title 42, a controversial immigration policy that restricted migrants from applying for asylum during the pandemic.

Title 42, enacted by the Trump Administration in 2020, allowed federal health officials to take drastic measures in the case of a widespread outbreak such as the Coronavirus. 

At the onset of the pandemic, the policy was enacted despite opposition from Democrats, immigration advocates and CDC experts. Scientists have long argued it was proposed out of concern for politics rather than public health. 

The CDC suggests the Department of Homeland Security can now implement new migration protocols while taking COVID-19 conditions into consideration.

“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 into the United States is no longer necessary,” the CDC said in the announcement last Friday.

Many medical experts, on the other hand, claim Title 42 was intentionally targeted at immigrants instead of all travelers coming into the country. 

University of Michigan professor Michele Heisler comments on behalf of the Physicians for Human Rights organization that there is no medical evidence to support a ban on asylum seekers.

“As the United States now begins its rollout of an additional round of COVID-19 booster shots and vaccine access remains robust, the hypocrisy of Title 42 expulsions is evident,” said Heisler. “As the Ukraine crisis has highlighted, people fleeing war and persecution deserve a fair and equitable chance to seek asylum in the United States – regardless of whether they are from Ukraine, Ethiopia, or El Salvador.”

CDC officials expect to see more vaccinations and testing facilities as migrant numbers ramp up. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) comments that they are prepared for an influx of as many as 18,000 immigrants per day.

“We are increasing our capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum requests, and quickly remove those who do not qualify for protection,” said DHS in a statement. ” We will increase personnel and resources as needed and have already redeployed more than 600 law enforcement officers to the border

​​The announcement regarding Title 42 comes on the heels of a new Biden administration rule that grants immigration officers the authority to decide asylum-seeking immigrants’ status.

In the past, these decisions were made solely by immigration court judges, drawing out the process to a couple of years.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland says this change should be more efficient and shorten the process to a few months. 

“It will help reduce the burden on our immigration courts, protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence, and enable immigration judges to issue removal orders when appropriate,” Garland commented in a recent statement.

This rule, in combination with the elimination of Title 42, will pose fewer obstacles for immigrants from countries throughout Latin America while ensuring due process.

Title 42 expires May 23 of this year.

Taylor Gutierrez is a Cuban-American digital journalism student and intends to pursue a career as a multimedia journalist, combining her passions for writing and photography. Gutierrez currently works as a Communications Associate for FIU's Institute of Environment where she discusses issues within the field of environmental science. She hopes her writing will help bridge the gap in communication between media consumers and the scientific research community.