SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — According to multiple reports, the Biden administration is considering ending the controversial immigration policy known as Title 42, which has blocked more than 1.7 million migrants from seeking asylum in the United States.
“They have been in Tijuana, thousands of migrants waiting for the asylum process to be restored for two years now that the doors have been closed to them," says attorney Dulce Garcia, who serves as executive director with Border Angels, a group that is helping support 17 shelters in Tijuana housing migrants who are waiting for the opportunity to seek asylum.
Title 42 is a policy that dates back to World War II. It allows the government to block asylum applications during times of public health crisis.
President Donald Trump began using Title 42 to expel asylum seekers when the pandemic began and the policy has been continued by his successor, President Biden.
Critics who support the migrants say with many pandemic restrictions lifted, Title 42 should be ended.
“As people are returning to this new normal, we’re wondering why is it that asylum-seekers, the most vulnerable among migrants, are still stuck in Tijuana without the ability to cross," said Garcia.
Several lawmakers have urged the administration to keep Title 42 in place, not because of a public health threat, but as a way of slowing and deterring migrants from coming to the United States.
According to reports, the Department of Homeland Security has been preparing for a worst-case scenario that could see daily apprehensions at the southern border more than double to as many as 18,000 per day, putting stress on an immigration system that struggles to get applications in a timely manner.
San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa, who is critical of President Biden's immigration policy, makes the case that it may well be time for Title 42 to end, but that it should be replaced by a different policy that encourages the vast majority of asylum-seekers to stay in their home countries while waiting to be processed, and allowing those with obvious cases for asylum to move to the front of the line.
"Title 42 should not be a replacement for a sensible border policy with sensible terms that dissuade people from coming here proactively," Issa told ABC 10News in an interview last week.
Garcia also criticizes the Biden administration, both for keeping Title 42 in place for so long, and also for not communicating with groups like Border Angels about how they plan to end the policy and resume asylum processing. She says migrants waiting in Tijuana have heard rumors the policy is ending and have presented themselves at the border, only to be turned away. Garcia says this has left them confused about when they may finally have a chance to apply for asylum.
“As of today, without a plan, without any communication from DHS, what we expect is chaos," Garcia said.