By: Giuseppe Ricapito, Marin Independent Journal
Some immigration advocates in Marin are alarmed by the extension of a pandemic policy that allows authorities to expel migrants at the U.S. border.
On Dec. 27, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the expiration of Title 42, a Trump administration limit on the number of asylum seekers who can gain access to the United States. The ruling was a 5-4 decision with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissenting.
The policy is named for a portion of U.S. Code that allows authorities to expel migrants at U.S. land borders to limit the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to end the policy, but 19 Republican-led states sued to keep it in place.
In November, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said the government must end the policy and set a deadline of Dec. 21. The Supreme Court ruling overturned that decision until the case is argued before the justices in February.
The Supreme Court decision comes as thousands of migrants remain gathered on the Mexican side of the border. Officials have expelled asylum-seekers inside the United States about 2.5 million times over the last three years on the grounds of containing COVID-19.
Roberta Laub-Rode, an attorney with Amigos Immigration in San Rafael, said the policy is being used to deprive people of their right to seek asylum in the United States.
“These people are living in dangerous and unsanitary conditions in Mexico,” she said. “Title 42 should be used to address a health crisis such as COVID, but is currently causing a humanitarian crisis at the border.”
“I agree that the government should address the issue of illegal immigration, but there are other legal ways to do so, and Title 42 is not the proper tool to deter illegal immigration,” Laub-Rode said.
Omar Carrera, chief executive of Canal Alliance, an immigrant advocacy organization in San Rafael, said the policy is being “misused.”
“It was created for a public health reason and we are using it for a political reason right now,” he said.
He described immigration as a “complex phenomenon” and said the Trump administration policy was harnessed to deny access to migrants who need asylum because they were fleeing war, crisis or famine in their home countries. Carrera said the United States often seeks to gloss over its own contributions to disorder in Latin American countries.
In Marin, the demand for immigration legal services has “continued to grow every day,” he said.
“Our capacity continues to be challenged by the need,” he said.
Canal Alliance only sees immigrants who have been released from border custody into the United States. Carrera said a comprehensive immigration reform plan should be considered with a repeal of Title 42 to allow more people a path to citizenship.
“We have a lot of people that are contributing to the local economy more than we even imagine and we don’t offer a path to permanent status. It’s a political thing,” he said. “I think we really need to have that conversation, what is our moral obligation to these people?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read the full article on the Marin IJ