Biden administration warns ‘our borders are not open’ ahead of Title 42 expiration News
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Biden administration warns ‘our borders are not open’ ahead of Title 42 expiration

A Trump-era deportation policy known as Title 42 is set to expire on Thursday night. Ahead of its expiration, US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas held a press conference at the White House where he said the Biden administration was “clear-eyed about the challenges we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead, and we are ready to meet them.”

At 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, Title 42, originally enacted as a public health measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the Trump administration, will expire. Beginning at midnight, US immigration officials will fall back to Title 8 enforcement mechanisms under the US Code. Title 8 broadly permits US border officials to remove individuals who illegally cross into the US without a legal basis to remain. Those who are processed and removed under Title 8 face a minimum five-year ban from reentry and potential criminal prosecution if they attempt to illegally reenter the US.

Working in combination with Title 8, a new rule finalized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday presumes that individuals who do not use legal pathways to enter the US are ineligible for asylum. However, there are exceptions to the rule.

The new rule will not apply to individuals who received appropriate authorization ahead of time, presented at a port of entry under the new parole system, established they could not access the new parole system due to technical problems or sought and were denied asylum by at least one other country. Individuals may also be exempt from the rule if they demonstrate “exceptionally compelling circumstances” regarding their arrival in the US. Also, unaccompanied children are not subject to the new rule. Without meeting any of these exceptions, US immigration officials will initiate removal proceedings, which will result in the individual’s removal from the US within 30 days.

“Our borders are not open,” said Mayorkas. “To those who do not use our available lawful pathways, we will deliver tougher consequences using our immigration law authorities.”

To help assist with the transition in border policy, the Biden administration is surging thousands of federal officers and agents to the border, opening an additional 100 regional processing centers for immigration cases, and providing state and local communities with over $360 million in funding. But the Biden administration fears this may not be enough to address the US’s ongoing crisis at the southern border. Mayorkas renewed calls on Thursday for Congress to pass updated and expanded immigration legislation, which has repeatedly stalled over the past few years.

Mayorkas said the Biden administration’s goal in handling the expiration of Title 42 is to ensure the process is safe, orderly and humane. “We are a nation of immigrants,” Mayorkas said, “and a nation of laws.”