In March of 2020, former President Trump enacted Title 42 under federal pandemic law with the stated intention that it would help prevent the spread of covid-19. According to both the Trump and Biden administrations, Title 42 allows the federal government to simply stop taking all asylum seeking applications and expel those seekers without any due process. Essentially, Title 42 closed the U.S. asylum system. Even though then presidential candidate Joe Biden promised to re-open the asylum system and he has done so for some seekers, he has not rescinded Title 42 and has chosen to extend it indefinitely for the majority of migrants in the name of national security. Aside from the historical fact that the 89% of those applying for asylum attended all of their hearings to determine their cases, and that this statistic jumps up to 98% if applicants have access to legal counsel, or that U.S. citizens are twice as likely to commit serious felonies than migrants, this argument that shutting the asylum system is in the interest of national security is illogical. It is the equivalent of the proverbial saying of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
The reality is that closing the asylum system has not made us any safer. The enactment of Title 42 has proven this.
One of three events will happen when people cross irregularly: they will be apprehended by the Border Patrol, they can die or they will get away:
As I personally witnessed recently in Del Rio, Texas, Border Patrol has a game plan for when large groups of Brown and Black asylum seekers reach our southern border. First they corral them like animals on the north side of the border and begin slow walking processing while claiming they are being overwhelmed. I say this because, agents from California to Texas have admitted to me that they are ordered to slow walk processing and let migrants suffer in custody. This slow walking is seen as another form of deterrence policy and is not written but a verbal order. As this article points out, the strategy of holding migrants under the port of entry bridge has been going on since the end of July.
The Border Patrol Chief then uses the Border Patrol Union to steer right-wing press to the most sensational and fear inducing pictures and videos while banning access to other outlets. Then they offer tours to Republican congressional leaders to fan the flames until the administration has enough. Suddenly, they are equipped and able to process thousands that they never could before and everything is cleaned up rather quickly. During this time, the migrants themselves are treated inhumanely. There may be a few investigations here and there. They will take years and no one will ever be held accountable.
Rinse. Repeat. Move on to the next self created crisis to own the libs.
Once Title 42 was enacted by former President Trump, it only took two months before those waiting in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) gave up and began crossing irregularly. That's right, the latest increase in crossings actually began under Trump after he enacted Title 42.
Migrants who were once willing to wait because they thought they had a chance at an asylum hearing suddenly realized they would likely never get that chance. Others who held out hoping Biden would end Title 42 once he took office, then gave up as well.
First, they sent their children across unaccompanied, so they did not have make the difficult and physically dangerous journey. Parents then trekked out to the mountains and deserts to take their chances. When asylum seekers are forced to cross irregularly and do get away, many die in the deserts. This current year is expected to be the deadliest because many of these families would have never had to cross the deserts if the asylum system was actually open. We have thousands of families who have been denied their right to claim asylum under the Trump administration plus all of those who are coming during the Biden administration at the same time.
The wall and the the enforcement activities of the Border Patrol intentionally push these families into the most inhospitable terrain. This has been the intentional deterrence policy of the United States since 1994 when former President Clinton began Operation Gatekeeper. Incidentally, I was hired under Clinton. Deterrence policies did not work back then and they continue to not work. What we know for a fact is that they kill migrants by the thousands.
We intentionally push migrants out to the deserts knowing it will kill them. This is US policy.
When asylum seekers are forced to cross without inspection, this means they never went through the background checks an asylum system requires. The Border Patrol is correct when they say that some people who get away may be violent criminals. It is a small percentage, but the reality is that it does happen. These irregular crossings lead to people not being vetted.
This is a national security threat when we cannot verify those entering our country. It is also a threat when Border Patrol agents are busy processing so many asylum seekers, something that is not their normal job. When Trump and Biden use(d) Title 42 and closed the asylum system, it caused the Border Patrol to be responsible for not only criminal elements crossing illegally but then asylum seekers as well. This means the Border Patrol is doing its job and the jobs of CBP and asylum officers.
The Border Patrol is a law enforcement tool. Administrations since Bush and Obama have been using a law enforcement tool to hammer what is a humanitarian nail, asylum.
Migration is a human characteristic. Asylum is a human right. If we want security, we must have an operating asylum system that allows for officials to inspect each person applying. That is the vetting that was being done before Title 42, and we must have an open and fully funded asylum system to do it. Title 42 not only puts seekers in harm’s way, but it also endangers Americans because we cannot then inspect those coming to our country. And since we can vaccinate or require proof of vaccination of every person who enters, covid is not an issue.
Our asylum system is an important and integral part of national security. The time is now. Open the asylum system.