Biden Administration Resumes Expedited Removal of Central American Illegal Migrants
© REUTERS / JOSE LUIS GONZALEZMigrants from Central America are detained by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent after crossing into the United States from Mexico, in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S. July 15, 2021
© REUTERS / JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ
The Democrat president’s administration previously suspended the expedited removal of illegal migrants, who could not receive asylum, resulting in some detention facilities being overcrowded with Central American migrants and becoming potential nexuses for spreading the coronavirus.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has resumed the expedited removal flights to transport some migrant families from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras back to their home countries. The method will affect Central American migrants who have not received asylum or other legal grounds to stay in the US, and are unable to be expelled under Title 42 of US law.
Title 42 is a 1944 American health law that allows the Department of Health and Human Services to essentially close the country's border to non-citizens (e.g. migrants) if "there is a serious danger to the introduction of [a communicable] disease" to the US. The law was put in use to curb illegal immigration with legal tools by the Trump administration in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.
Commenting on the renewal of the practice of expedited removal flights, the DHS said that it would allow it to "securely manage" the American border and implement "safe and orderly immigration processing".
"The Biden-Harris Administration is working to manage safe, orderly, and humane migration in North and Central America, including by expanding lawful pathways to the United States", the DHS statement said adding that the current administration is committed to "fairly and efficiently" considering asylum claims.
The shift in policy comes as Republicans continue to criticise Democrat Joe Biden's administration for purportedly triggering record-high immigration with promises of lax legislation compared to the Donald Trump era. Biden rescinded many of Trump's anti-immigration policies and projects on his first day in office, but has still kept some in place, including the use of Title 42.
In the following months, many US detention facilities faced a surge in arriving migrants. According to the accounts of Republican lawmakers, migrants, including minors, live in overcrowded conditions in these centres with little effort being made to control COVID-19 outbreaks in them. The Biden administration has rejected the criticism and claimed that it will be fighting the influx of migrants not by closing borders, but by helping Central American countries – the main source of migrants this year – to improve their living conditions by fighting unemployment, eliminating social inequality, and providing the countries with the coronavirus vaccines they lack.