San Diego regional political leaders Friday said they welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to terminate Title 42, a policy blocking migrants from seeking asylum in the United States.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security secretary announced on Friday the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end, on May 23, the policy put in place by the Trump administration. Since March 2020, the CDC required the expulsion of unauthorized single adults and family units arriving at land borders in order to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement, Mayorkas said that until May 23, the Department of Homeland Security will continue to expel single adults and families encountered at the Southwest border.
“Once the Title 42 Order is no longer in place, DHS will process individuals encountered at the border pursuant to Title 8, which is the standard procedure we use to place individuals in removal proceedings,” Mayorkas said. “Nonetheless, we know that smugglers will spread misinformation to take advantage of vulnerable migrants. Let me be clear: those unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed.”
Mayorkas also said the Biden administration “has a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to manage any potential increase in the number of migrants encountered at our border.”
“We are increasing our capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum requests, and quickly remove those who do not qualify for protection,” Mayorkas said. “We will increase personnel and resources as needed and have already redeployed more than 600 law enforcement officers to the border. We are referring smugglers and certain border crossers for criminal prosecution. Over the next two months, we are putting in place additional, appropriate COVID-19 protocols, including ramping up our vaccination program.”
Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, said in a news release that the Biden administration’s decision was “a welcome step.”
“Over the last two years, migrants have been cruelly expelled from our country under the guise of Title 42,” Vargas said. “Title 42 was never about public health and safety — it was implemented to deny due process to people seeking refuge and protection.”
“Representing border communities, I’ve seen the impact of Title 42 firsthand. Our nation was built by immigrants and every immigrant deserves to be treated fairly and humanely,” Vargas said, adding that seeking asylum in the U.S. is legal,” Vargas added.
Vargas said the administration has a plan in place to manage the situation the border and he looks forward to working with DHS, Federal Emergency Management Administration and local governments and nonprofits “to ensure migrants seeking refuge in our country are given the due process they deserve.”
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said the Biden administration’s removal of the “inhumane and restrictive policy is long overdue.”
Gloria said his administration will continue to work with the DHS and regional community organizations “to ensure the process is orderly and that migrants have access to needed services and resources.”
Nora Vargas, vice chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors, also praised the Biden administration’s decision to end “a racist and xenophobic Trump-era policy that under the guise of public health, denied people the fundamental right to seek asylum.”
“Now more than ever we should lead the way in building a just and humane immigration system that rises to meet the challenges of the current situation around the world,” Supervisor Vargas said. “San Diego County has proven in the past to be a welcoming place and we must continue to provide the support and services to anyone that is integrating and enriching our community.”
City News Service contributed to this article.