Human Rights First Calls on CDC to Rescind Title 42 Order After Easing COVID-19 Mask Mandates
WASHINGTON D.C. – With reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon ease its guidelines for COVID-19 mask mandates, Human Rights First reiterates its urgent call for the CDC to rescind its unjustifiable Title 42 order, which public health experts confirm “does not provide adequate public health justifications for expelling asylum-seeking families at the border.” The order, which the Trump administration first issued, has continued to be used by the Biden administration to evade U.S. refugee law and obligations to block and expel people seeking refuge to danger without access to U.S. asylum processes.
“The CDC’s easing of COVID-19 guidance on masks while maintaining the CDC’s Title 42 order to expel asylum seekers on the pretext of the pandemic further confirms the order is completely unjustifiable,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director for research on refugee protection at Human Rights First. “Not only does the CDC’s Title 42 order fail to comply with U.S. asylum law and treaty obligations, but it is being used – every day – to turn away people seeking protection in the United States to suffer horrific harms. The CDC must end its complicity in these mass human rights abuses.”
Over the last year alone, people blocked in or expelled to Mexico under the Title 42 policy have suffered at least 8,705 incidents of kidnapping, rape, human trafficking, torture, and other violent attacks, as Human Rights First documented in its January 2022 report “A Shameful Record.” Leading public health experts have repeatedly – under both the Trump and Biden administrations – called on the CDC to rescind the order on the basis that the expulsion policy “magnif[ies] the risk of COVID-19 transmission” and is “based on political, rather than scientific, considerations, rooted in racist tropes and populistic untruths.” The Biden administration has extended the current CDC order through early April 2022.