LGBTQ immigrant rights groups have hailed the Biden administration’s decision to end a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants due to the pandemic.
“It was about time,” Immigration Equality executive director Aaron Morris told The Washington Blade in a phone interview Monday. “It was a difficult policy to justify during the worst times of the pandemic.”
The CDC in March 2020 implemented Title 42 in response to the pandemic.
Morris described Title 42 as “Stephen Miller’s brainchild long before COVID-19 even existed” and a “sort of arcane public health law to keep people from coming to the United States.” Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas officially announced on Friday that Title 42 will end on May 23.
“Ending the use of Title 42, a racist and harmful policy that was enacted by Trump, is a good step for many asylum seekers, especially Black LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers who have been denied entry at the US-Mexico border,” Oluchi Omeoga, co-director of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, told The Blade in a statement Monday.
Organization of Refugees, Asylum and Migration (ORAM) executive director Steve Roth echoed Omeoga and Morris.
“ORAM is thrilled to see the long-awaited reversal of Title 42, a policy that put asylum seekers at risk in border towns and prevented them from seeking safety in the United States,” Roth told the Blade. “We hope that removing this policy will expedite the processing of asylum seekers, particularly members of the LGBTIQ community and other vulnerable groups.”
Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who represents the border city of El Paso, also welcomed the end of Title 42.
“The use of Title 42, introduced by the Trump administration, has effectively eliminated access to legal asylum in our country,” the Texas Democrat said in a statement March 31, the day before the announcement. of Mayorkas. “I’ve been calling for the end of Title 42 since it started and I hope the Biden administration cancels it soon.”
U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-California) was among other lawmakers who also welcomed the end of Title 42. U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and others expressed their concerns. concerns.
“We are concerned that DHS has not adequately prepared and developed a plan to keep migrants, officers and our communities safe after Title 42,” Sinema and Cornyn said in a letter they sent. in Mayorkas on March 31. “To date, we have not seen enough action to avert a humanitarian and security crisis. Coherent coordination and communication with state and local governments along the border, including small communities, is a necessary component. of a successful strategy to secure the border, protect border communities and ensure that migrants are treated fairly and humanely.
Republican attorneys general in Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri filed a federal lawsuit on Sunday to block the termination of Title 42.
The “Stay in Mexico” policy remains in place
The Biden administration has sought to end the Migrant Protection Protocols program that requires asylum seekers to pursue their cases in Mexico, but Morris and others the Blade spoke to noted that the MPP remained in place.
“Ending Title 42 is a step in the right direction, but at the border we are still concerned about the negative impact of MPP reinstatement on immigrants who are still being sent back to Mexico to await their hearings,” said Abdiel Echevarría-Cabán, a Texas-based Southern Immigration Lawyer who is also an expert in human rights law and policy.
The State Department is currently advising Americans not to “visit” or “reconsider travel” to the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja California – which all border the United States – due of “crimes and kidnappings”.
Blanca Navarrete is the director of Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción (DHIA), a group that runs Casa D’Colores, a shelter for asylum seekers and LGBTQ migrants in Ciudad Juárez, which has been across the Rio Grande from El Paso.
Navarette told The Blade in a phone interview Monday that Ciudad Juárez and other Mexican border towns remain dangerous for migrants who are at increased risk of being kidnapped, robbed, raped and trafficked. Jerlín, a transgender man who fled Honduras earlier this year, told The Blade in February before receiving a humanitarian visa to enter the United States that he was afraid to stay in Piedras Negras, a Mexican border town located the other side of the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass. , Texas, because “the drug cartels will kidnap you”.
“The end of Title 42 doesn’t mean the border is going to be open,” Navarette said.
“Title 42 is just the bottom line of the blatant and very harmful politics that is happening in our broken immigration system,” Omeoga pointed out. “BLMP envisions a world where no one is forced to leave their homeland, where all Black LGBTQIA+ people are free and liberated, a world where all Black people and our loved ones have housing, bodily autonomy, health and ability to move and travel. freely and with dignity, free from criminalization, anti-black racism, misogyny and all forms of transphobia and homophobia.
Deborah, national organizer for the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, in a statement to The Blade, described terminating Title 42 as “the right decision,” but added “for many people who have been turned away from the border to face a fate uncertain. , It was too little, too late.”
“The administration can restore the right to seek asylum without backlash, detention, ankle monitors and other forms of surveillance and criminalization,” Deborah said. “The Biden administration needs to understand that we don’t need a $527 million US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) surveillance program. We need safe and fair pathways for migration.
Escobar in his statement also reiterated his calls to reform the US immigration system.
“Addressing immigration exclusively at our nation’s borders represents a failure of vision and policy,” she said. “Outdated policies and processes harm migrants and asylum seekers, waste millions of dollars every year, abuse law enforcement personnel, and don’t make us ‘safer’. Now is the time to reform an outdated and inhumane system, and I urge the administration and Congress to implement the changes I have championed.
“Our country can and must do better,” Escobar added.