As COVID Travel Restrictions Ease, It’s Past Time to Repeal Title 42

After 19 months with severe travel restrictions, November brought the end to those restrictions. vaccinated air travelers who are not U.S. citizens will finally be allowed back into the U.S.From 33 countries, including many European countries like China, India and South Africa. The simultaneously, the land borders with both Canada and Mexico will also be opened for vaccinated travelers.

Since the pandemic hit, U.S. travel restrictions — like those imposed in a rush by so many other countries around the world — have often been irrational. A non-citizen of the U.K. or another EU country was prohibited from entering the U.S. for non-emergency travel. since early summer, vaccinated Americans have been allowed back into EuropeDespite the fact that Europe has a higher level of vaccination than the U.S. and a lower per capita death total, this is still true.

Other travel restrictions in the United States have also shown clear signs discrimination. For example, Mexican citizens who could afford plane tickets encountered no obstacles flying inEven at the height of the crisis, Mexican citizens and asylum seekers tried to enter the U.S. through a cheaper land-crossing route. However, they were automatically denied crossing rights.

Travel restrictions will continue to be irrational and inconsistent into 2022. Despite the high infection rates in Russia, Russian citizens were not prohibited from flying to the U.S. despite the fact that they were vaccinated. This is contrary to what happened in Europe. Ironically, however as the new vaccination mandates for air travelers kick in, Russians will suddenly face a huge barrier to access, since the Sputnik vaccine hasn’t been approved by the World Health Organization, and thus travelers from that country, who will now be required to provide proof of an approved vaccine, will suddenly find their access to the U.S. restricted.

But it’s along the southern border with Mexico that the full irrationality and cruelty of the pandemic-era travel restrictions remain on full display. The border closure with Mexico is a particularly nasty example of exclusionary politics masquerading as a public health response; and despite the opening of the land border for vaccinated travelers with legal travel documentation, public health measures — specifically the use of Section 265 of Title 42 of the Public Health Service Act of 1944 — will continue to be used along the border as a tool of immigration policy rather than as a legitimate response to the pandemic.

In the winter of 2020, Trump administration officials saw an opportunity for them to intensify their efforts to close the southern border to would be migrants and further their nativist agenda. Stephen Miller, Trump’s odious conspirator on anti-immigrant regulations, had long tried to invoke public health codes as a way to bar various categories of immigrants, especially those who were poor and non-white.

The idea was rejected by White House lawyers prior to the pandemic. Miller rethought the idea of urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to invoke Section 265 from Title 42. This is a public health measure that allows for the closure of the border and denial of entry (and due process) for would-be asylum seekers in times of public health emergencies. Trump lawyers agreed that the situation allowed them to impose severe restrictions on right-of entry.

Miller and his zealots were allowed to use the argument that people trying to enter the U.S. were likely to be infected by the virus to seal the southern border. Trump, who long spoke of impoverished immigrant of color as a vector of crime and of offenders, has now closed the southern border. sickness, gleefully approved Miller’s strategy. (The New York TimesAccording to reports, he was also keen on Miller’s idea of deploying quarter of a million U.S. soldiers to the southern border — a proposal so extreme that the Pentagon itself rapidly closed down such discussion.)

The CDC’s invocation of the provision was updated in September 2020And again one month later, all in the interest of locking out asylum seekers.

When Biden became president, he did allow for the implementation of Title 42 to be modified, so that families with children wouldn’t automatically be expelled back into Mexico. There are thousands of families Have In recent months, the country has allowed them in. However, this reform was not enough to counteract another reality: As attempted crossings rose in the first months under the new presidency the Biden administration leaned more towards enforcing Title 42. Border Patrol agents used the public-health provision to justify their actions and sent nearly 700,000. people back across the border in February and August. In essence, despite new administration’s tinkering around the edges, the basic structure and rationale of the exclusion policy remain in place. federal appeals court rejected an ACLU-led legal effort to force the administration to end its use of Title 42It will be there through the new year.

As seen in the Border Patrol’s shameful and violent response to Haitian asylum seekers in south Texas last month, the U.S.’s approach to vulnerable migrants along the southern border remains largely an exercise in brutality.

Stephen Miller’s diabolically creative use of public health measures against impoverished migrants was grist to Trump’s mill as the pandemic gathered steam. But, it turns out, Trump wasn’t the only political leader to find the flawed public health rationale convenient. Nearly two years into the COVID crisis, as the U.S. stumbles its way toward gradually reopening access to the world’s travelers, and as the country’s own public health emergency continues largely because so many Americans refuse to get vaccinated, the Biden team appears eager to keep the draconian and inhumane Title 42 policy in its tool chest.