Almost exactly two years ago, on March 20, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency regulation implementing an obscure piece of U.S. health law known as Title 42 — a provision that allows borders to be closed in emergency situations to protect the public health. It essentially closed the U.S.-Mexico border to those seeking asylum.
After 1.7 million expulsions, including a million under the Biden administration, and with widespread vaccinations and open travel for business and tourism, this law still remains in effect. Combined with the widespread impact of MPP, or “Remain in Mexico,” Title 42 has essentially kept the U.S. border closed to those exercising their basic legal right to seek protection.
In a public webinar on March 22, Rebecca Kirzner, HIAS’ senior director of grassroots advocacy, hosted HIAS Border Fellows from California and Arizona who provide legal aid at the U.S.-Mexico border. Gabriela Munoz Cano, Martha Mercado, Pedro Alemán and Ana Islas gave first-hand accounts of the humanitarian emergency on our doorstep.
Sue Kenney-Pfalzer, HIAS’ director of the Border & Asylum Network, provided the harrowing context of an incentive framework that, she explained, encourages cartels and smugglers and has led to innumerable attacks on expellees in Mexico. In 2021 alone, there were 650 deaths of people trying to cross to the United States, all of whom would have been able to apply for asylum if it were not for Title 42.
Watch the complete webinar below.
This webinar was part of a week of action to end Title 42, organized through the Welcome With Dignity coalition.