The US-Mexico border is bracing for a potentially weeks-long surge of migrant crossings, threatening to ignite a politically toxic issue for President Joe Biden. The expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed US authorities to swiftly expel migrants encountered at the border, with some exceptions, is expected to increase the number of migrants trying to enter the US and intensify an already challenging humanitarian crisis at the border.
Title 42, which was implemented by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, ostensibly to curb the spread of Covid-19, will end on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The policy has been criticized by human rights groups and immigration advocates as a violation of international law and a pretext to deny asylum seekers their right to seek protection.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, more than 2.7 million people have been turned away at the southern border under Title 42 since March 2020. Many of them have been waiting in Mexican border cities, hoping for a chance to enter the US legally. Some have fled their home countries because of poverty, gang and political violence, and climate change.
The Biden administration has said it is working with Mexico and other countries in the region to manage migration flows and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. It has also launched a new online system, called CBP One, that allows migrants to apply for appointments to enter the US and plead their asylum cases. However, the system has been plagued by technical glitches and limited availability.
However, some local officials and residents along both sides of the border are concerned about the potential impact of the end of Title 42 on their communities.
Migrants who have been waiting for months or years in Mexico are also anxious about their fate.