Will the CDC end Title 42? Law enforcement on the border say it would be “devastating.”
If pandemic-related restrictions are being lifted, should Title 42 also go? The CDC is set to assess the need for the health code early next month— But the conversations around it are happening already following the State of the Union Address where President Biden talked about the pandemic nearing an end and the need for a secure border. However, when it comes to Title 42, some say keeping the health code but loosening restrictions elsewhere is hypocritical.
I reached out to CDC— the agency has been conducting assessments of Title 42 regularly every 60 days. The findings of last review was released February 2nd, where the guidance stayed the same with the health code in place.
Today White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked by a reporter during the daily press briefing, if Title 42 would be going away since the president himself said we are nearing the end of the pandemic.
Psaki said what happens with Title 42 is up to the CDC. She says agency is looking into it— but per the CDC, that won’t be happening again until early April.
The agency tells me, “CDC has completed another 60-day assessment of the Order under 42 U.S.C. 265. As specified in that Order, every 60 days CDC reviews the latest information regarding the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health risks to determine whether the Order remains necessary to protect the public health. At this time, it remains in effect. The current reassessment examined the present impact of the pandemic throughout the United States and at the U.S. borders, taking special note of the surge in cases and hospitalizations since December due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. CDC continues to emphasize the need for testing, vaccination, and other mitigation measures at border facilities beyond the use of the Order.
CDC will continue to reassess the Order every 60 days.”
Last fiscal year, reports by Customs and Border Protection show agents expelled more than 1 million (1,063, 526) migrants under Title 42. This fiscal year, reports show 344,517 people who entered the U.S. illegally have been expelled under the health code. Title 42 was put into place in March of 2020-- That year, 204,787 were expelled.
I talked with law enforcement and border patrol along the southern border to see what lifting Title 42 would mean for them and operations.
In Texas, Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith fears that ending Title 42 would lead to a surge at the border, one that would cripple border patrol and ICE resources and facilities even more than they already are. He says most people expelled under T42 are Mexican nationals, because most would not qualify for asylum in the U.S.
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe says, "It will clog the system. It will require border patrol to process 100% of apprehensions."
In Arizona meanwhile, Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot says, “It would be devastating…It’s concerning from a community and health and safety standpoint, our border agents and communities continue to see our administration ignore securing the border not only during the pandemic due to covid but also the other diseases from over 140 different countries coming across our border everyday. Impacting our border agents. Their families and our communities. Tuberculosis. Hepatitis, Scabies, Syphilis, and Mycobacterium Bovis infection just to name a few… They are being allowed to enter illegally and travel to the interior states. For thise communities to deal with. The feds are putting that responsibility onto local hospitals to deal with.”
A border patrol agent in Arizona says, “It would mean no more deportations because I’m pretty sure unless you have criminal history or you qualified for title 42 then you were being released. I think if they get rid of it then we’ll see another surge from countries that we were previously deporting under title 42.”
However, in Cochise County things are a little different. Sheriff Mark Dannels tells me, "Since we don't have an issue with 'give-ups' I don't see an impact as long as Sonora, Mexico continues to work with the U.S. Our challenges are the aggravated 'get-aways' (illegals that are repetitive criminals and/or prior deportees).
When it comes to qualifications under Title 42-- migrants who are single (not with a family unit) are to be expelled, but that has not been happening in some cases. I witnessed hundreds of single adult men and women dropped off by ICE at the San Antonio airport. The people I spoke to confirmed there were not going into "alternate detention" with tracking devices as The White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki suggested -- Instead, some migrants told me they were going to different states to be with family. Some didn't even have a date for a court appearance.
I sent several messages to immigration attorneys asking how the removal of the health code would impact migrants crossing the border and hoping to live in the U.S. — I have not heard back.