Biden admin to expand Title 42 expulsions

President Joe Biden on Jan. 5 announced that the US is to extend a parole program previously offered only to migrants from Venezuela to those from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, allowing them to apply for residency—but reiterated that his administration will continue to enforce Title 42, in compliance with a recent order from the Supreme Court. In fact, under his new policy, Title 42 expulsions are to increase, with Mexico agreeing to accept expelled Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. A provision of the Public Health Service Act allowing for summary expulsion of migrants at the southern border, Title 42 has been in effect pursuant to a Centers for Disease Control order of March 2020 as a COVID-19 emergency measure.

Since Title 42 was invoked, the Mexican government has only accepted the return of its own nationals and migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But in October, the Biden administration convinced Mexico to accept expelled Venezuelan migrants as part of a deal in which Washington committed to allowing up to 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the US legally under the parole authority. In an expansion of this deal, Mexico has now agreed to accept Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitiains expelled under Title 42.

The administration will now begin expelling up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua back into Mexico each month, while allowing 30,000 from those countries to apply to live and work in the US for two years.

Under the parole program, migrants must have a legal sponsor within the US and undergo a vigorous background check. It also requires migrants to schedule a time to enter the US through a legal port of entry through the CBP One app.

The Biden administration also announced a new legal pathway for migrants who come to the US seeking asylum—also relying on the CBP One app. Asylum claims are currently the only exception to Title 42.

The abrupt policy shifts as litigation over Title 42 has been batted back and forth in the US courts has led to confusion in cities on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Squalid encampments have sprung up in Matamoros, Reynosa and other Mexican border towns as migrants await entry to the US. 

Despite expansion of the parole program, migrant advoacy groups protested the expansion of Title 42. The Welcome With Dignity campaign said in a statement: "Title 42 is both a moral and policy failure. Despite this... the Biden-Harris administration seems intent on doubling down on President Trump's xenophobia and cruelty."  (Jurist, CBS, NBC, WOLA)

Context on Haitians under Title 42

We reached out to the Welcome With Dignity campaign for clarity, and it appears that the mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Del Rio, Tex., in September 2021 was not done nder Title 42 (contrary to some erroneous reportage at the time), but under other restrictions such as Remain in Mexico and "metering," which has been assailed as an improper practice of "asylum turnbacks." Haitians have been returned to Haiti under Titlte 42, but not to Mexico, which was refusing to accept them.

Deadly fire at Juárez detention center

A fire at migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez killed at least 39 on March 28. Mexico's president said the fire started when migrants learned they would be deported and set fire to mattresses in protest. Some had applied for asylum status via the new CBP One app. But some migrants have reported that the cellphone app has crashed repeatedly, leaving them stranded in Mexican border towns. (Texas Tribune

Chihuahua immigration director arrested

A Mexican judge April 22 ordered the immigration director of northern border state Chihuahua to stand trial for his failure to manage a deadly fire at a detention centre which caused the death of 40 migrants. Salvador González is to be detained pending trial over charges of homicide, injury and unlawful exercise of public service. (Jurist)

US asylum policy violates international law: Amnesty

The mandatory use of CBP One to seek asylum in the US violates the United States' and Mexico;s international human rights and refugee law obligations, according to a report published by Amnesty International on May 9.

The rights group found that CBP One, a mobile application designed to process individuals seeking asylum, cannot be the exclusive manner of entry into the US to seek international protection. The group stated that the application creates significant obstacles for many asylum seekers and that the enforcement of the application by the US and Mexico infringes upon the countries' obligations to ensure the rights of those individuals. (Jurist)