Title 42 is up for another review Wednesday. The pandemic-era policy enacted in March of 2020 that allows border officers to swiftly turn away migrants on public health grounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reassessing the policy, and so far renewing it, every 60 days.
Immigrant advocates and a growing number of lawmakers argue Title 42 doesn’t have a public health justification and undercuts the legal right to asylum.
Michael Knowles is an asylum officer and the president Local 1924 of the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents asylum officers and other Citizenship and Immigration Services employees. He says his chapter has also come out against the policy.
"International law gives migrants the right to seek asylum, to have their cases fairly heard, and to be treated humanely while they await their hearings, not being turned away and returned to possible danger," he said.
This month, the Biden administration announced an upcoming asylum rule change that would fast-track adjudication of asylum cases by taking them out of the immigration court and into the jurisdiction of officers like Knowles. Under current federal law, asylum cases are heard by an immigration judge, a court system that's currently facing a record backlog of some 1.7 million cases. The new rule, set to take effect in 60 days, would see asylum officers handing claims from start to finish.
But advocates argue as long as Title 42 is in place, asylum will remain mostly inaccessible.