What a week last week was. I was just back from Honduras, I had an all-day staff planning retreat Wednesday, and I drove from Washington to Massachusetts and back on Thursday and Friday, as my daughter finished her first year of college.
And, oh yes, Title 42 ended on May 11th.
Things were so busy that, while I managed to write this commentary for WOLA’s site as fast as I could type it, I never actually posted a link to it here, at my personal site.
A week later, this piece has almost exactly 40,000 “unique pageviews” and about twice that many “pageviews,” according to WOLA’s Google Analytics account. That definitely breaks my career record, at least for writings where I’ve seen the stats.
Here’s the summary. The entire analysis, with lots of graphics, is here.
10 Things to Know About the End of Title 42
by Adam Isacson
May 11 is the final day for the Trump and Biden administrations’ “Title 42” policy, which undid the basic right to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border for 38 months.
Now, 2.8 million migrant expulsions later, the U.S. government is reverting to immigration law as it existed before the world went into lockdown. But as it does so, the Biden administration is adding a new limitation on asylum that, with Mexico’s cooperation, promises to continue the pandemic-era practice of sending asylum seekers away from the United States, placing many in danger.
Media coverage is anticipating a wave of migration at the border, with headlines proclaiming that officials are “bracing for an influx.” Legislators are seeking new ways to block asylum seekers, citing “chaos.” Such concerns are misplaced.
Migration will increase, just as it did before each of Title 42’s earlier, abortive expiration dates. But the post-May 11 increase is likely to be neither giant nor long-lasting. After all, Title 42 hardly deterred migration in the first place: it’s at or near record levels already, right now. And the Biden administration is working, with the Mexican government’s collaboration, to keep asylum out of reach to an extent that may resemble what we’ve already seen over the past 38 months.
Instead of a “migrant wave,” we should be concerned about:
- A questionably legal “asylum transit ban” rule, about to go into effect, that could endanger many thousands of people who, though on U.S. soil, will be denied the legal right to seek protection. It’s not yet clear which nationalities, and which demographics, of migrants would be sent back into Mexico without that right. But if fully implemented, this rule would put asylum out of reach to an extent recalling what we saw during Title 42.
- A worsening crisis of stranded migrants in Mexico’s border cities, resulting from the López Obrador government’s agreement to take back asylum seekers whom the U.S. government rejects, often without giving them a hearing.
- A humanitarian crisis along the migration route, as new nationalities try to traverse treacherous regions like the Darién Gap.
- The continued dysfunction of the U.S. asylum system, and the fragility of the tattered patchwork of alternative pathways to legal entry into the United States.
The situation at the border after May 11 may, for a time, appear disorderly. But it already has been, and it was before the pandemic began. If anything, Title 42’s lifting will make plain the need to reform our immigration system and align it with reality. And it will highlight the U.S. political system’s frustrating paralysis in the face of that challenge.
The facts on the ground bear this out. Here they are, in ten points.