Court of Appeals blocks use of public health to expel families to danger

Cites Human Rights First research in noting harms to victims of Title 42

WASHINGTON D.C.  — In the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Hisha Huisha v. Mayorkas, Human Rights First calls on the Biden administration to end its use of Title 42 to evade U.S. refugee law and take immediate steps to provide families and adults seeking protection normal access to U.S. asylum processes.

In its ruling, the court concluded that “from a public-health perspective, based on the limited record before us, it’s far from clear that the CDC’s order serves any purpose.”  The decision twice cited a declaration submitted by Human Rights First attorney Julia Neusner, who has conducted extensive research on the impact of the Title 42 policy with other Human Rights First staff. The court found that “the record is replete with stomach-churning evidence of death, torture, and rape” for those blocked from protection or expelled under Title 42.

“This ruling is another confirmation that the Biden administration’s expulsion of people seeking protection violates U.S. refugee law and lacks a true public health basis.  The administration must end the Title 42 travesty, uphold refugee law at U.S. borders, and lead by example as it encourages other countries to welcome refugees fleeing from Ukraine and other places,” said Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First. “The Biden administration’s decision to embrace and defend this Trump policy has been a terrible miscalculation, and the administration must take this opportunity to finally put this illegal and inhumane policy to rest.”

Since President Biden took office, Human Rights First has tracked at least 8,705 reports of kidnapping, rape, human trafficking, torture, and other violent attacks against migrants expelled to or blocked in Mexico due to the Title 42 policy.  The Biden administration has used Title 42  to illegally expel more than 18,000 Haitians to life-threatening insecurity in Haiti since September 2021, a decision that top State Department legal expert Harold Koh concluded was illegal and inhumane” before he left the administration last year.

Since the U.S. government began using Title 42 to expel people in March 2020, Human Rights First has published a series of reports documenting the severe human rights violations caused by the policy under both the Trump and Biden administrations: May 2020, December 2020April 2021 (with Al Otro Lado and Haitian Bridge Alliance), May 2021 (with RAICES and Interfaith Welcome Coalition), June 2021July 2021 (with Hope Border Institute), August 2021October 2021, and January 2022.

Human Rights First has also worked with a group of leading public health experts who have repeatedly concluded that Title 42 is deceptive from a public health perspective and called on both the Trump and Biden administrations to end the policy.

In addition, Human Rights First has issued an analysis documenting how the Title 42 policy causes disorder, undermines security and is counterproductive – including pushing crossings between ports of entry. The organization has also issued reports documenting how decisions to leave refugees access only to “withholding of removal” rather than asylum leave refugees in limbo without stable status and prevent them from reuniting with their children and spouses.


Published on September 19, 2022


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