Biden admin considers changing Trump’s pandemic border closures to allow ‘vulnerable’ migrants into US: Report

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

The Biden administration is reportedly considering changes to a Trump-era public health order that allows for asylum-seeking migrants to be rapidly expelled to their country of origin, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday.

The Biden administration’s unofficial plan could grant humanitarian exceptions to some migrants allowing them to enter the U.S. regardless of former President Donald Trump’s implementation of Title 42, a public health order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic allowing officials to expel migrants at the southern border, BuzzFeed reported.

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson said the southern border “is not open,” BuzzFeed reported. “Individuals and families under the CDC’s Title 42 public health authority,” are still expelled from the U.S.

“DHS is continually working, in consultation with the CDC, to improve the process for humanitarian exception requests under Title 42 as part of our efforts to restore safe, humane, and orderly processing at our borders,” the spokesperson told BuzzFeed.

DHS officials are considering a program geared towards offering humanitarian exceptions to migrants in vulnerable situations, documents obtained by BuzzFeed reportedly said. Mexican organizations would provide CBP officials with biographical information and biometrics of migrants who would be the exception to Title 42 expulsions.

A potential partnership between the countries would streamline the process and ensure migrants are tested for COVID-19 before entry, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed. Migrants who arrive at a U.S. official port of entry would not be eligible for the program. 

President Joe Biden was criticized for leaving Title 42 in place and allowing thousands of migrants, including asylum seekers, to be expelled at the border without hearing their cases, according to BuzzFeed. Even with the new possible program, border officials will likely continue denying entry to most migrants who arrive at the southern border.

The Trump administration implemented Title 42 in March 2020 to rapidly expel migrants without granting them an opportunity to make credible fear cases, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported. The Biden administration lifted the order for unaccompanied migrant minors who are taken into federal custody after they’re apprehended, the DCNF reported.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials encountered over 172,000 migrants in March including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children, according to the agency. Over 680 unaccompanied migrant minors were in CBP custody as of Tuesday while nearly 22,200 were in Department of Health and Human Services shelters, the agency reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sent 35 cases for entry on humanitarian grounds to the U.S. government daily, Attorney Lee Gelernt told Buzzfeed.

“We are hoping to see a more formal, expanded program ramp up quickly. Any formal NGO process, to be meaningful, will need to allow a significant number of people in each day at multiple ports,” Gelernt said, according to BuzzFeed.

DHS did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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