Biden’s immigration policy is neglectful

The end of ‘Title 42’ spells disaster


Sarah Kluckhohn

In response to the pandemic, the Trump administration issued a collection of temporary immigration restrictions in 2020 known as Title 42. The policy allows immigration officials to turn away migrants en masse under the guise of protecting public health. During the policy’s reign, an estimated 2.8 million migrants were expelled from the United States for this reason. 

Title 42 is set to expire May 11, leaving the aftermath of the repeal on the shoulders of the Biden administration. A major projected impact of the repeal is the clogging of the US-Mexico border. In the midst of increasing chaos around the Mexican border — including a recent migrant center fire that killed 38 — migrants desperate to make it to the US may see the end of pandemic restrictions as an opportunity to cross the border, even though officials warn this is not the case

Biden’s response to the impending crisis is to further arm the country’s southern border, sending an additional 1,500 troops to assist the 2,500 national guard troops already deployed in the area. The troops will stop migrants from entering the US unless they have an appointment through CBP One, an app released by the Biden administration aimed at streamlining the historically long and difficult process of asylum request. 

The plan, as it stands, threatens the status of thousands of migrants. The CBP One app has already proven to be a failure, meaning the bulk of people at the border do not have the appointments they need — and in my opinion, deserve — to enter the country. The result of this will be the continued overcrowding of migrant detention centers, which are notoriously inhospitable, and the mass deportation of migrant people. 

The borderline impossibility of legal immigration to the US under this plan will not stop people from coming into the country. The fight to become a citizen is a bloody one, and the people who know that best are those who’ve made it to the border. They will not turn around because they can’t get a CBP One appointment — rather, they will attempt to cross illegally, which often entails becoming a smuggler for cartels. Officials know this, which is why they’ve deployed additional troops to the area.

It is easy to dismiss the current state of the border as a product of the Trump administration, and while Title 42 and other policies from the period were harmful to migrants, Biden’s border policy is just as unhelpful. The southern border has been in crisis for years — the end of Title 42 would not make such big waves if US immigration was an otherwise sound institution. Biden’s border plan is a flaccid, lazy response to an issue that plagues the most vulnerable among us, a plan which seems expressly focused on turning away migrants and minimizing legal immigration. Until his administration enacts any sort of positive change for migrant people, I refuse to listen to platitudes about his support for immigrants or the importance of family. He has the power to make a difference — if he wanted to, he would. 

An alternative to the current plan could include re-allocating the 130 million in taxpayer dollars already dedicated to fixing the crisis towards public immigration lawyers and improving the conditions of migrant centers and away from militarization. If the system was easier to navigate for immigrants, they would not be forced to work for cartels in order to cross. We must operate under the perspective that the people at the border are a population in need of legal assistance, not criminals — in other words, we have to actually give them a chance.