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As CDC Renews “Title 42” Order, Women’s Refugee Commission Calls for Biden Administration to End the Policy and Restore Access to Asylum

Washington, D.C. — Reports today indicate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) completed another 60-day review to assess the Title 42 order, deciding once again to extend the order. Under this policy, individuals are unlawfully blocked at the U.S. southern border from exercising their right to seek asylum in the United States and are summarily expelled to Mexico and other countries where they may face persecution and inhumane conditions.

Title 42 has never been about protecting public health. While addressing a congressional committee in November, a former CDC official confirmed that the decision to implement Title 42 under the Trump administration was not based on a public health assessment and that CDC officials objected to the decision to close land borders. More than 1,300 medical professionals from 49 US states and territories have called on the CDC to end the policy. Countless leaders and officials have also called for the end of this policy, including the UN Refugee Agency High Commissioner, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, more than 60 members of Congress, and top Biden administration advisors.

Moreover, the decision to extend the Title 42 order comes at the same time that the Biden administration announced the re-implementation of the ill-named Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as “Remain in Mexico.” Taken together, these programs make it all but impossible to meaningfully seek protection at the U.S. southern border.

In response, Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

“During a pandemic, as at all times, the CDC is expected to guide policy with evidence-based scientific information. Yet the agency continues to undermine its credibility by implementing and defending a cruel policy that its own officials have publicly deemed baseless. WRC agrees with the countless medical professionals who have found again and again that Title 42 is an illegal, violent, and xenophobic mass expulsion immigration policy masquerading as a public health measure. The CDC is ignoring scientific consensus demonstrating that mitigation measures, not the denial of access to asylum, protect public health.

“That this news comes on the heels of the announcement to re-implement the Remain in Mexico is even more devastating. It is unconscionable that nearly eleven months into this administration, there is still no meaningful way to seek asylum at the US-Mexico border. These policies blatantly violate due process as well as U.S. obligations under U.S. and international law to ensure that anyone can exercise their right to seek asylum in the U.S.

“WRC renews its call to restore asylum processing, including at ports of entry, and to finally create a just asylum process that upholds our laws. The Biden administration must end its reliance on policies that deter and punish and instead finally create a system that welcomes with dignity.”