Ending the COVID-19 Migrant Restrictions

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government put many measures in place to address the spread of the virus. Most Americans are aware of the beneficial programs, including stimulus checks, foreclosure protection and free access to vaccines. 

What many may be unaware of is Title 42, which officially ends on May 23rd, 2022. Title 42 was put into place early into the pandemic by the Department of Homeland Security. The order was used to not only limit who was allowed to immigrate into the country, but also created an expedited process to deport migrants.

Your Guide is Here!

Click to Download Your LIHEAP Guide

Part of Title 42 was already revoked in March, allowing an exception for unaccompanied children.

In addition to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) lifting pandemic restrictions, immigration advocates pushed for fewer migrant restrictions because of the conflict in Ukraine.

While Title 42 was largely aimed at immigrants coming in from the Mexican border, it broadly applied to other groups as well. Recently, this included refugees fleeing from Ukraine.

What Eliminating Title 42 Means for Citizens

For current U.S. citizens, revoking Title 42 is expected to have minimal effect. Many health experts argued Title 42 was not effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, since any immigrants crossing the border still encountered border patrol and other agencies. 

While some critics argue removing Title 42 will encourage mass immigration, none of the pre existing immigration laws are ending. While Title 42 did affect some of these laws, it was primarily focused on increasing the speed of deportations.

The biggest way citizens will be impacted by revoking migrant restrictions is during the election. Many Republicans are already preparing arguments about how Democrats are being too soft on border protection. As the November election draws closer, expect to see more ads criticizing the end of Title 42.

What Eliminating Title 42 Means for Immigrants

For immigrants, there are more significant changes ahead when Title 42 ends. The Department of Immigration expects a drastic increase in asylum requests in May and the following months. However, there may be an overall decrease in border activity.

One of the criticisms of Title 42 was the rushed deportation, which led to poor record keeping. Migrants were not penalized if they were removed from the county or denied an immigration request under Title 42. As a result, many stayed at the border after being rejected, constantly filing new requests.

With Title 42 ending, it will be easier to process official requests. If a migrant is turned away, they will not be able to keep submitting requests. However, with the process returning to normal, it will take more time to handle all the requests. 

Many immigration judges are already overwhelmed with pending migrant requests. One of the reasons Title 42 isn’t being revoked until May is to give President Biden’s administration a chance to prepare for the influx in immigration requests. The Department of Immigration is working to create more legal channels and respond quicker to immigration requests.

The department is also preparing logistical solutions for border patrol stations. More resources and personnel are being sent to keep migrants moving through the system, preventing overcrowding at border patrol stations.

Stricter measures are also being implemented to make sure migrants remain safe and have sanitary living conditions while awaiting processing.

Is It Safe to End Title 42?

While some critics are afraid ending Title 42 will result in a surge of illegal border crossings, border security experts predict the opposite. As previously mentioned, there were no penalties or marks against migrants who were expelled under Title 42. 

While this led to many migrants flooding the system with requests, it also caused some migrants to try and illegally cross into the border because there were no legal repercussions if they were caught. With Title 42 ending, migrants caught illegally entering the country will face stricter repercussions and therefore may be discouraged from making another attempt to illegally cross the border.