The Department of Homeland Security plans to comply with a federal court order and will no longer attempt to lift Title 42, the “stay in Mexico” policy.
A senior administration official told reporters Tuesday he would comply with the order, though he disagreed with the basic principle.
Title 42 prevents asylum seekers from entering the United States, forcing them to apply for asylum from Mexico or another country.
Lower courts have blocked the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to overturn Covid-era policy. A federal judge has signaled that he will temporarily block administration efforts to lift Title 42 on May 23.
“This has serious consequences, for those who come here and for Mexico. Also for our political debate, because this decision will further polarize the political environment leading up to the November elections,” said Eduardo Gamarra, professor of political science at Florida International University.
Proponents of Title 42 believe it helps deter migration, and opponents argue it puts lives at risk, forcing migrants fleeing persecution or violence to remain in dangerous situations at the border while their business go through US courts.
“When people are returned to Mexico, they are targeted by cartels for kidnapping and extortion of family members in the United States. It doesn’t give anyone a real chance to seek asylum or protection as they are constantly targeted and tortured,” one opponent said.
Dozens of people gathered outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, where SCOTUS heard oral arguments in the case.
Many in South Florida say Title 42 is not the solution to current border challenges.
“Congress and the White House need to do more than debate whether Title 42 is a viable option,” said Tomas Regalado, president of the Inter-American Institute for Democracy. “We should start with an immigration law, we don’t have one and haven’t had one for decades, we need some kind of guidance and we need to have border control.”
Title 42 was implemented as public health policy at the start of the pandemic, a policy the CDC says is no longer necessary. Title 42 is estimated to have prevented 1.7 million attempts to cross the US border.