Federal Court Forces Continuation of Title 42
Ruling risks lives of people seeking refuge
WASHINGTON – Human Rights First is deeply disheartened by a federal judge’s ruling enjoining the federal government from ending the disastrous Title 42 policy on May 23. This ruling comes in a suit brought in Louisiana by state attorneys general allied with the former Trump administration. Human Rights First urges the Biden administration to appeal this ruling and seek an immediate stay of the preliminary injunction.
“The court’s ruling requires the continuation of a public health policy that public health experts have concluded is not needed, and allows the continued evasion of U.S. immigration and refugee laws,” said Anwen Hughes, Director of Legal Strategy, Refugee Programs. “The administration must defend its long overdue termination of the Title 42 policy that, under the false guise of public health, has been used to illegally return families and adults seeking refuge in the United States to grave danger and block refugees at the border from applying for asylum.”
Human Rights First joined with 57 partner organizations in an amicus brief to the court to make clear the appalling human cost this policy has wrought. Since the Biden administration took office, Human Rights First has tracked at least 10,250 reports of murder, kidnapping, rape, torture and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers blocked in or expelled to Mexico due to Title 42.
“Every day that the Title 42 policy remains in place, people seeking refuge in the United States are turned away to grave danger or left to suffer brutal kidnappings and attacks,” said Kennji Kizuka, Associate Director for Refugee Protection Research at Human Rights First. “The forced extension of this spurious policy will also lead to more repeat border crossings, inflated border crossing statistics, and the continued evasion of actual U.S. immigration and refugee law.”
Recent attacks documented in the latest report Human Rights First released with Al Otro Lado and Haitian Bridge Alliance in April 2022 include: a lesbian asylum seeker from El Salvador raped after being expelled to Mexico under Title 42; a Haitian asylum seeker attacked with a bat and subjected to racist abuse after DHS used Title 42 to expel him and his family to Mexico; a trans man from Honduras and his girlfriend blocked from requesting asylum due to Title 42 who were raped by men who said they were “going to teach them how to be women;” and a Nicaraguan woman kidnapped with her four-year-old child and raped, who remain stranded in danger in Mexico.
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: April 2022 (with Al Otro Lado and Haitian Bridge Alliance), March 2022, February 2022, January 2022, December 2021, November 2021 (with Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project), October 2021, August 2021, July 2021 (with Hope Border Institute), June 2021, May 2021 (with RAICES and Interfaith Welcome Coalition), April 2021 (with Al Otro Lado and Haitian Bridge Alliance), December 2020, and May 2020.
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.
Human Rights First expresses its profound thanks to the epidemiologists, public health and medical experts who have studied the Title 42 policy over the past two years and repeatedly confirmed — including in an amicus brief submitted in this case — that it has no basis in science or justification as a public health measure.