What is Title 42, why is it ending and what’s happening now at the US-Mexico border?
HARLINGEN, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a drop of over 13,000 detainees in ICE custody in the days following the lifting of Title 42, according to data from Syracuse University.
The university’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, which tracks all immigration cases nationwide, found the number of asylum-seekers in ICE detention went from nearly 40,000 on May 19 to 27,330 on May 21.
Of those detained, 61% — or 16,705 — had no criminal record, according to TRAC data.
Most of the detainees are in Texas, which has nearly 10,000 in custody, TRAC said.
The South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall, Texas and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, each have over 1,200 migrants in custody, as of May 21, according to ICE data analyzed by TRAC.
The Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego had 750 in custody, and the El Paso Service Processing Center had 600, TRAC reported.
What is Title 42?
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order that officials said aimed to stop the spread of Covid-19. The order allowed authorities to swiftly expel migrants at US land borders. The policy is widely known as Title 42, for the portion of US code that allowed the CDC director to issue it.
Migrants encountered under Title 42 have been either returned to their home countries or sent back into Mexico. Under the policy, authorities have expelled migrants at the US-Mexico border more than 2.8 million times since the policy began, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.
The policy, which officials have relied on to manage a spiraling situation at the border, is set to end at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Why is Title 42 ending?
We’ve known for months that Title 42’s days were numbered.
The policy’s end comes as the Biden administration is ending the Covid public health emergency nationally.
The emergency declaration was the legal underpinning for Title 42’s border restrictions, in addition to a number of other policies.
What will happen at the border after Title 42 is lifted?
Officials predict that lifting Title 42 is likely to spur a significant increase in the number of migrants trying to cross into the US.
One reason for the expected spike: Many migrants who were sent back to Mexico under the policy are desperate and losing patience.
Advocates say for many of those who were expelled under Title 42, the situation has been dire.
Since Biden took office, Human Rights First says it’s identified more than 13,000 incidents of kidnapping, torture, rape or other violent attacks on people blocked or expelled to Mexico under Title 42.
Some communities are already dealing with an influx of migrants.
Brownsville, Texas, began seeing a spike about a week and a half ago, according to Sergio Cordova, a founder of the non-profit organization Team Brownsville.
The organization has been receiving about 1,000 migrants a day at its center, Cordova said. And while many quickly move on to their next destinations, dozens have slept on the streets over the last week.
El Paso, which declared a state of emergency ahead of Title 42’s expiration, already has about 2,300 migrants living on the streets around two shelters downtown, and some aid organizations worry they won’t have the resources to help everyone if that number grows.