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Despite promises for more humane immigration policies, President Biden has picked up where Donald Trump left off.

A little background:

You might have seen the picture of the border patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitian immigrants. Or the photo of thousands camped under a bridge in Texas. One reason the U.S. won’t allow them into the states by seeking asylum is because of a policy known as Title 42.

Former Vice President Mike Pence rationalized it by arguing it served to “prevent the transmission of the virus coming through both the northern and the southern border.” In the wake of the pandemic, this was a loophole the Trump administration used to keep immigrants from crossing through. He began using this unprecedented policy in March 2020. Interestingly enough, Haitian immigrants are tested for COVID-19 and sent back to Haiti regardless of the results.

And now that a new administration has come into the office, Title 42 is in the hot seat again. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has spoken about it. He argues that it is a “health authority” necessary “to protect the American public. To protect the communities along the border. And to protect the migrants themselves.” So, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have condemned Biden’s actions.

They are asking that the Biden administration do four things:

  1. Stop the use of Title 42.
  2. Regulate Customs and Border Patrol.
  3. Deviate some CBP funding “toward a humanitarian response to migration.”
  4. To stop all deportations to Haiti.

Another aspect to note is that the top CDC official refused to have the Center for Disease Control publicly support Title 42. Pence then went to an even higher authority, the CDC’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, and ordered him to do so because of the special nature of the organization’s legal authority.

Haiti is fragile right now, so it is not surprising that so many have fled the country. Last month, a presidential assassination took place and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. In the last nine days (the time between Sep. 19 through Sep. 27, 2021), approximately 3,396 Haitian immigrants have been deported by air. Many migrants camped out in the Rio Grande are coming from Latin American countries like Chile and Venezuela, who are expelling them.

That isn’t to say that the U.S. hasn’t been helping the Haitian immigrants at all. Funding has been allocated to the issue. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided a stipend of close to $100 for each refugee.

Immigrants’ rights groups aren’t the only ones expressing outrage. America’s former top official in Haiti resigned after the mass deportations began. He stated, “I will not be associated with the United States[‘] inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

Overall, the Biden administration continues the drastic immigration policies first put in place by the Trump administration. This may not be the last you hear of this issue either; Title 42 is actively being contested in court.

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Here at FSU, I am completing a degree in International Affairs with a minor in French. When I'm not in school or working, I love to read and work out. My passions include environmental activism and learning about human rights abuses occurring throughout the world.
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