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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UUSC Applauds Court Ruling Against Title 42

U.S. District Court decision striking down the anti-asylum policy is a, “victory for human rights, racial justice, and the rule of law.”

On November 15, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled the Biden administration can no longer invoke Title 42 authority to expel asylum-seekers at the U.S. border. UUSC’s President Rev. Mary Katherine Morn issued the following response: 

“Judge Sullivan’s decision is a victory for human rights, racial justice, and the rule of law. For more than two-and-a-half years, the government has abused its Title 42 powers to arbitrarily disregard our nation’s asylum laws and cruelly deprive people of their right to seek safety. As a result, thousands of families and individuals have been expelled without a hearing to Mexico, Haiti, and other countries where they face persecution, kidnapping, and other extreme dangers. These summary expulsions violate international law as well as U.S. law, and they disproportionately target Black refugees and other people of color. 

“Tuesday’s ruling may not be the end of the program’s legal saga. Nor will it immediately restore full asylum access at U.S. borders. Judge Sullivan granted the government’s request to stay the order for five weeks (albeit with “great reluctance”), so it may be more than a month still before asylum-seekers are once again able to present their claims for protection. However, the decision does put to a stop for now to the efforts of right-wing state governments to extend the Title 42 program, since it renders moot the earlier court order they have used to keep the anti-asylum policy in place. 

“Given that the Biden administration has tried to end the Title 42 policy in the past—only to be blocked by a different district court—it would be the height of hypocrisy for them to appeal Judge Sullivan’s ruling, which clears a path for them to do what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set out to do in the spring. (So far, the administration has said they will not oppose the ruling, though we have seen them contradict themselves on Title 42 in the past.) The administration should respect Judge Sullivan’s decision without challenging it in the higher courts and work to implement it with all speed.” 

UUSC has advocated for an end to the Title 42 policy since its inception, organizing a joint petition with our allies the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, which delivered more than 700 signatures earlier this year urging the administration to terminate the order and restore U.S. asylum processing. 

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The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a human rights and solidarity organization founded as a rescue mission in 1940 during the Holocaust. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with a membership of more than 35,000 supporters across the United States, UUSC’s programs focus on the issues of climate and disaster justice, migrant justice, and international justice and accountability.