Title 42 Ruling Provides Biden Administration with Opportunity to Follow Science, Not Predecessor’s Status Quo

January 30, 2021

Washington, DC – This evening, in response to a U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit ruling that upholds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 rule that permits federal officials to summarily deport migrants within hours of first contact, including unaccompanied children,  Kids in Need of Defense President Wendy Young issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling demonstrates the urgent need for the Biden Administration to restore a commonsense approach to immigration, including the abandonment of Title 42 expulsions. Even CDC scientists note that this practice serves no public health interest. This Biden White House has demonstrated a clear commitment to respecting science and not politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve immigration enforcement objectives. Title 42 runs counter to this approach and places children and other vulnerable populations in danger and at heightened risk of human trafficking, violence, and persecution. The Biden Administration should waste no time in officially abandoning this cruel and senseless practice, a step that would make clear the return of our nation’s longstanding commitment to providing vulnerable refugees with the opportunity to present their claims for protection.”

On March 20, 2020, the CDC issued a now-indefinite order shutting out unaccompanied children and asylum seekers from the United States. Denying refugee children their right to apply for humanitarian status had been a goal throughout the Trump Administration.  In October 2020, evidence emerged that the order closing the U.S.-Mexico border to refugee children and families ran counter to the conclusion by CDC scientists that the order served no public health interest. Additionally, the CDC order violates the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) requiring the U.S. government to afford unaccompanied children, without exception, a full and fair opportunity to seek protection from the harms they escaped.

Since March 2020, the Trump Administration has insisted the Title 42 expulsions and the underlying order were a necessary public health response, even as independent public health experts denounced those actions as lacking a public health rationale and made clear that the U.S. government is fully capable of processing unaccompanied children while also upholding public health and safety. Simultaneously, the government put children in hotel rooms without appropriate care or supervision, and it put children on deportation flights with COVID positive adults back to countries with very weak health care systems. These actions are further evidence that the Trump Administration’s border policies were not grounded in rational health concerns, but rather are tactics to achieve a political agenda.

“President Biden has the chance to demonstrate that he will follow science, not the status quo established by his predecessor. The White House should immediately halt Title 42 as it works to restore order at the border and achieve necessary immigration reform,” Young concluded.

For more information or to speak with Wendy Young, contact Megan McKenna at 202-631-9990.