US may end Covid-era expulsion of migrants at Mexico border

Covid-era migrants Mexico border

US may end Covid-era expulsion of migrants at Mexico border

WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden’s administration is leaning toward ending a COVID-era order that has blocked more than a million migrants at the Mexico border, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter, a major policy shift that would restore the U.S. asylum system but could provoke backlash from Republicans.

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A third official said the policy was being actively debated and a decision could come within weeks, though the outcome was not yet clear. All three requested anonymity to provide details on internal conversations.

The discussions, which have not been previously reported, were prompted by recent U.S. court decisions that complicate the implementation of the so-called “Title 42” border order coupled with major moves by U.S. public health officials to loosen pandemic restrictions across the United States, the officials said. 

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The order was issued by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic by former Republican President Donald Trump. But Biden, a Democrat, has kept it in place – and defended it in court – despite promises to roll back Trump’s most hardline immigration policies.

Health experts and immigrant rights advocates have been pushing for its end, arguing the policy unlawfully cuts off access to asylum and that scientific evidence does not support its stated goal of helping to curb the spread of the virus. 

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Title 42 allows U.S. authorities to rapidly expel migrants caught at the border, either to Mexico or other countries, without a chance to seek refuge in the United States. Since it went into effect, migrants have been turned away more than 1.6 million times under the policy, though some of those encounters were individuals crossing multiple times.

U.S. leaning toward ending COVID-era expulsions of migrants at Mexico border – sources

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