Update 12/8/22: The Biden administration has now appealed Judge Sullivan's ruling, backtracking yet again on their promises to protect asylum rights. While the outcome of the litigation is not yet clear, the administration's decision increases the odds that Title 42 will remain in effect past its currently-scheduled end date.

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Biden’s Flip-Flopping on Title 42 is Endangering Lives

The administration’s back-and-forth on the dangerous expulsion policy does nothing but cause harm and violate basic human rights.
U.S.-Mexico border sign

By UUSC Staff on October 5, 2022

In recent news, the Biden administration has committed to expanding the use of the Title 42 anti-asylum policy to rapidly deport Venezuelan, Cuban, and Nicaraguan nationals. While President Biden campaigned on a promise of welcoming immigrants and making the nation more welcoming, his actions of late have not aligned with that rhetoric. 

Biden was quite vocal in his denunciation of former President Donald Trump’s implementation of Title 42 and committed himself to upholding the human right to seek asylum. Now, in the midst of midterm elections, we are faced with nearly two years of a dizzying game of hot potato, one where Title 42 is used to jettison human beings across national lines.

This Trump-era “public health” mandate—a mandate that was repealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this spring—is a racist and xenophobic pretext used to expel Black and Brown people back to nations that are deeply volatile. The policy is already routinely used against Haitian and Central American people. Now, the Biden administration is reportedly urging Mexico to allow them to expel previously-exempt nationalities as well—even though this contradicts the administration’s official stance of trying to end Title 42. As a result, people from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua are being dehumanized, treated like social threats rather than living, breathing human beings escaping political violence and repression. And they face battles on two fronts: one with their own governments and the other with the United States.  

Under current policies, the Mexican government has generally refused to let the U.S. government expel Venezuelan, Cuban, and Nicaraguan people to their environs, so the Biden administration has been forced to exempt them from Title 42 in practice. Once inside the United States, they have faced dehumanizing rhetoric and exploitative schemes from right-wing politicians, such as the recent ploy by Florida governor Ron DeSantis to fly nearly 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses. The people subjected to this stunt—mostly Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Cuban nationals—were reportedly misled about where and why they were being taken, making DeSantis’s propaganda likely unlawful as well as cruel. These asylum-seekers therefore face attacks from all sides—a Democratic administration that is seeking to expel them and a rightwing political machine that is trying to manipulate them as political pawns.

Equally disturbing is the Biden administration strong-arming nations like the Dominican Republic and Brazil into accepting these immigrants, an act that clearly shows that the United States is willing to use its power to coerce, but not to collaborate. Ironically, the reason why the United States is pressuring other nations to accept these immigrants is because their home countries—Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua—have tenuous relationships with our own government, tensions rooted in how they treat their own people and other nations. Despite this, empathy seems to be in short supply. 

President Biden can’t have it both ways. He cannot extoll the benefits of immigration in campaign speeches and press conferences while continuing the use of a racist policy that deports human beings to violence and death. More importantly, when we talk about “public health,” we must consider the health of those who are coming into this nation and the reasons why they’re coming. Rapidly deporting people back to nations where they face persecution, violence, death, and enforced disappearances is never in the best interest of the public. 

The Biden administration has considerable political power, but it needs the will to generate equitable and just solutions rooted in fairness and morality. Otherwise, this treacherous game of hot potato will never end.

Photo Credit: iStock—Stadtratte

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