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Lifting Title 42 and Welcoming Asylum Seekers Are the First Steps to Restore the U.S. Asylum System

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today ordered the termination of Title 42, a policy which has blocked tens of thousands of people from accessing the U.S. immigration and asylum system since March 2020. The termination will take effect on May 23, 2022. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that his department will then resume processing people seeking entry into the United States.

National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy responded to the announcement with the following statement:

“We welcome the Biden administration’s long overdue announcement that it will restore regular asylum processing at the southwest border and end the use of mass expulsions, where individuals were returned to harm without an opportunity to apply for asylum. It is time for the U.S. government to uphold its obligations under domestic and international laws to allow all individuals who arrive at U.S. ports seeking protection to have the opportunity to safely enter the United States and pursue their asylum claims. Nongovernmental organizations and legal service providers like NIJC are ready to welcome these asylum seekers as our neighbors.

"We call on the administration to:

  • Immediately begin allowing all people who seek asylum at U.S. ports to enter the country and pursue their rights under asylum law. No one should be forced to wait in Mexico.
     
  • Partner with community-based groups to ensure that those who arrive are treated humanely and compassionately, have the opportunity to reunite with loved ones in the United States, and are permitted to live freely while they await their asylum hearings.
     
  • Ensure fairness and justice during the asylum process. Avoid relying on expedited processing which will inevitably reduce access to legal counsel and due process.
     
  • Reject the failed and cruel deterrent approaches of previous  administrations, including prosecutions for irregular entry that separate families, undermine asylum rights, and are racist in  application and origin.

"While we are relieved that the cruel Title 42 policy will be discontinued, we mourn the lives lost or irreparably harmed over the past two years as the U.S. government expelled thousands of people who came seeking refuge. Today’s announcement gives President Biden an opportunity  to finally begin to restore the U.S. asylum system and demonstrate that our government is both willing and able to welcome people who flee their homes seeking hope and refuge.”