What is going on at the border and why are people blaming the current administration for how they are handling the border??!
Hmm- what is really going on and what changed?! The previous administration had issues with immigrants showing up at the Mexican border and asking for asylum under the law. The Southern border besides building the Wall was still a source of angst and concern to the previous folks. At the beginning of the pandemic, the previous administration found a tool to fix this and to control the border. CDC under Health and Human Services signed off on an order under section 362 and 365 of Public Health Service Act – title 42, which prohibits introduction of goods or persons on public health grounds and to expel people who arrive at the border. Under this Order, the focus of the administration was to curb the spread of disease mostly through land border entries (while turning a blind eye to the planes full of people coming in carrying the virus!). This Order, based on an obscure 75-year-old law from 1944, meant to curb pandemics and spread of communicable diseases, previously was meant to apply to all people entering the United States including US citizens. This new Order from HHS and CDC particularly applied to the Mexican and Canadian border. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-03-26/pdf/2020-06327
Using this law, bypassed the asylum process and credible fear interviews at the border. Based on this order, CBP could summarily expel the entrants applying or asking for protection as refugees at the border. This applied to men, women, and children and without regard for the safety of where people were returned. The CDC Order “suspending introduction of certain persons” applies to land travel from two countries, Mexico, and Canada, and only to those non-citizens defined as “covered aliens.” That definition is unrelated to infection or disease. It includes only those who arrive by land without valid travel documents and immediately “suspends” their “introduction” for a renewable period of 30 days. In actuality, the Order singled out those who seek asylum – and children – to order them removed to the country from which they entered or their home country “as rapidly as possible.”
At this time, this Order is still in place though, the current administration has created an exception for unaccompanied minors, and it has allowed this group in, while keeping the law alive for all other asylum seekers. The unaccompanied minors are taken in and sheltered while they await to be processed or unite with sponsors. There are stadiums and other facilities being used to house such kids and a lot of them have landed in Texas and truly it’s a mess. Based on these numbers, there is an ongoing furor as to what is going on at the Border. It’s simple and stark-asylum or the path to it, has been closed for all people except minor children, who arrive unaccompanied. A better system must be created, and resources allocated to handle the current surge. United States has always led by example in its humanity and courage which is the spirit of the refugee and asylum commitments. We cannot hide behind the obscure act from 1944 to dodge our pledges as international human rights leaders. We lead from here, our border!
(As a footnote- IRC- the International Rescue Committee has made some suggestions to control what is happening at the border- U.S. has the resources and capability to treat asylum seekers with dignity.)
Here is what the new administration should do:
- Urgently scale up partnerships with humanitarian organizations on both sides of the border that can meet the needs of asylum seekers.
- Stop the use of Title 42 to turn away asylum seekers.
- Send more humanitarian aid to Central America, to address the crisis at its root and to protect and meet the basic needs of people undertaking the dangerous journey to the U.S.
- End Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detentions and deportations during the Coronavirus pandemic. People held in detention are at increased risk of COVID-19.
This blog aims to provide new information concerning the mess. This blog, under no circumstances, acts as legal advice; therefore, for any proclamation or any immigration questions, please contact your Attorney or the Ahluwalia Law Offices, P.C. (Team ALO).