Enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border enters a new chapter now that a public health rule known as Title 42 has expired.
In its place, the U.S. government is implementing a series of enforcement policies meant to reduce the number of people reaching
the U.S.-Mexico border while also creating opportunities for asylum seekers to gain protection within the country.
But the transition to the new polices is expected to create serious challenges as border communities and federal agencies adapt to the changes that will go into effect starting May 12.
What is Title 42? Title 42 will be ending May 11 after three years in which U.S. border officials expelled 2.7 million migrants from the U.S. back to Mexico under
a public health rule was issued during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The public health rule had been set to end last year, but was challenged in court.
It will finally expire this month after President Joe Biden ended the emergency health declaration for COVID-19 that granted the U.S. government the authority to expel migrants under Title 42.
The stated goal of Title 42 was to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at border holding facilities by denying migrants entry into the U.S., even if they had valid claims for asylum.
But long after lockdowns, mask coverings, and other pandemic requirements ended,
Title 42 remained in place and became a de facto border enforcement tool that allowed U.S. officials to manage migrant flows at the border.
By the time Title 42 expired, the policy was used to expel migrants from Latin American countries; primarily Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
What is Title 8? Title 8 is the section of the U.S. Code that outlines the rules and regulations for immigration and the removal of people who do not have a legal basis to stay in the United States.
These include the policies that had been in place prior to the implementation of Title 42 in March 2020, and which will continue in place once Title 42 expires on May 11.
Under Title 8, migrants reaching the U.S.-Mexico border can be apprehended and questioned about their grounds for admission into the country.
If they express fear of return to their home country, they are referred for a credible fear interview with an asylum officer.
If they pass their credible fear interview migrants can then be placed in the queue to file their asylum claims in the country and released into the interior of the United States.
Under a May 2022 final rule, the asylum officer also has the authority to fast track their asylum application.
If they do not express fear of return or if they do not pass their credible fear interview, migrants can than be deported from the United States back to their home countries,
and given a five year ban on reentry. Migrants placed in removal proceedings can be put in one of two tracks.
The standard removal proceedings go before an immigration judge under the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review and can take up to 4.5 years for a decision.
During that process, migrants have the opportunity to file an asylum claim as the removal proceedings advance.
Or migrants can be placed in expedited removal proceedings and be deported much more quickly.