Title 42 explained: Has the policy expired – and when did it pass?

The Trump-era Covid policy expired last night at 11:59pm EST

Ariana Baio
Friday 12 May 2023 10:41 BST
How the end of Title 42 will shape immigration

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Border cities in Texas are bracing for an influx of migrants and asylum seekers as the Trump-era Covid policy Title 42 came to an end last night.

The rule, which was rolled out in March 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allowed officials to prevent people from entering the country and spreading Covid-19. More than 2.8 million people were turned away from the country’s southern border over the past three years.

Authorities have used Title 42 as a temporary solution to the border crisis but as the Biden administration ends the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency, the rule also comes to an end.

Now, the US is bracing itself for an increase in migrants and asylum seekers with cities like El Paso declaring a state of emergency.

Already, border towns are overwhelmed by the number of people seeking shelters, with many sleeping in the streets.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has deployed additional soldiers to the border in preparation for Title 42’s expiration.

“With the ending of Title 42 on Thursday, President Biden is laying down the welcome mat to people across the entire world,” Governor Abbott said in a press release.

“The Texas National Guard is loading Blackhawk helicopters and C-130s and deploying specially trained soldiers for the Texas Tactical Border Force, who will be deployed to hotspots all along the border to help intercept and repel large groups of migrants trying to enter Texas illegally,” Mr Abbott added.

President Joe Biden has defended his own decision to send 1,500 troops to the border ahead of Thursday, batting off criticism that he has failed to adequately prepare for Title 42’s expiration – his officials claim they have spent more than a year putting plans in place.

Many of the people crossing into the US are expected to travel through Brownsville, north of the town of Matamoros in Mexico, the recent scene of an SUV crash that left eight people dead and around 10 others injured outside of a migrant centre.

What is Title 42?

The policy is part of the CDC’s Covid emergency declaration and allows border agents to turn away migrants at land borders in the US without having to take them into custody – in what the CDC said would mitigate the risk of Covid-19.

A week after then-president Donald Trump declared Covid a national emergency, Title 42 rolled out. The policy saw around 2.8 million people turned away at the US border following the outbreak of Covid.

Why is it expiring?

Although the Biden administration has made use of the policy, particularly against a background of an unexpected increase in migration to the US amid issues in Nicaragua and Venezuela, it is allowing it to expire at 11.59pm EST on 11 May.

This is because the Covid public health emergency is expiring – and Title 42 relies on the public health emergency for legitimacy after the CDC concluded in April last year that there was no public health reason to turn away migrants at the southern border.

In anticipating an influx of people to US borders, the Biden administration has attempted to legislate its way out of the situation, introducing a raft of measures it hopes will manage arrivals.

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