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The Nightmare Continues: Title 42 Court Order Prolongs Human Rights Abuses, Extends Disorder at U.S. Borders

June 16, 2022

On May 23, 2022, the Title 42 policy was set to end. For more than two years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had used this Trump-era policy to block asylum at U.S. ports of entry and to expel asylum seekers to grave dangers without allowing them to apply for U.S. asylum. However, on May 20, 2022, a federal court in Louisiana preliminarily enjoined decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to terminate its prior Title 42 orders, and the court directed the U.S. government to continue the Title 42 disaster. At the same time, a ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prohibiting DHS from using Title 42 to expel asylum-seeking families "to places where they will be persecuted or tortured" went into effect on May 23.Despite these seemingly dueling Title 42 judicial decisions, DHS retains clear authority to except individuals from Title 42 and remains obligated under U.S. refugee law and binding treaty commitments not to return anyone--whether a family, adult, or child--to persecution or torture, as the legal rationale of the D.C. Circuit Court decision confirms.However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the border enforcement arm of DHS, continues to turn away people attempting to request asylum at U.S. ports of entry without screening for asylum, stranding them in Mexico facing life-threatening dangers. DHS also continues to expel people who cross the border between ports of entry to grave danger in Mexico, Haiti, and other countries of persecution from which they fled without allowing them to apply for asylum or asking fear screening questions.This update is based on interviews with 74 asylum seekers conducted by Human Rights First researchers in Ciudad Acuña, Nuevo Laredo, and Piedras Negras, Mexico in late May 2022 as well as additional remote interviews in June 2022; information from legal services and humanitarian aid providers across the border region; observations from outside the Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Laredo ports of entry; publicly available U.S. government data and information; as well as media and other human rights reporting.

A Shameful Record: Biden Administration’s Use of Trump Policies Endangers People Seeking Asylum

January 13, 2022

Now nearly one year into President Biden's term, his administration continues to implement and expand illegal and deadly Trump administration policies that prevent people from seeking asylum at U.S. ports of entry and along the border and turn them away to grave, widespread dangers. The administration's use of these policies – known as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico – has perpetuated their inherent cruelty, disorder, and the racist tropes in which they are rooted. The result is a shameful record of human suffering. Since the Biden administration took office, Human Rights First has tracked over 8,705 reports of kidnappings and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers blocked in and/or expelled to Mexico by the United States government.Despite lifting other pandemic-related international travel restrictions, the Biden administration continues to embrace Stephen Miller's policy of misusing Title 42 of the U.S. Code to block asylum seekers from requesting protection at U.S. ports of entry and to expel people seeking refuge without access to the U.S. asylum system. The administration is defending the expulsion policy in federal court, with the next hearing in a lawsuit challenging expulsions of families at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals set for January 19, 2022. The Biden administration bears full responsibility for its rampant use and continued defense of the illegal Title 42 policy, which it is has wielded now for longer and to expel more people than President Trump.For this report, Human Rights First researchers conducted in person and remote interviews with migrants and asylum seekers, attorneys, shelter and other humanitarian staff, Mexican government officials, and legal monitors. Researchers monitored the implementation of RMX in Ciudad Juárez in person in December 2021 and interviewed 18 of the individuals returned under RMX. Additional interviews of migrants and asylum seekers blocked in or expelled to Mexico due to Title 42 were conducted by telephone between December 2021 and January 2022 and in person in Tijuana in November 2021. The report draws on data from an electronic survey of asylum seekers in Mexico conducted by Al Otro Lado between September 2021 and December 2021, data and information provided by Mexican migration officials, legal complaints, media sources, and other human rights reports.

Human Rights Travesty: Biden Administration Embrace of Trump Asylum Expulsion Policy Endangers Lives, Wreaks Havoc

August 24, 2021

More than seven months since President Biden took office, the U.S. government continues to turn awayand block people seeking protection at U.S. ports of entry along the southern border and to expel manyasylum seekers to growing danger in Mexico. For this report, Human Rights First researchers conducted in person and remote interviews with migrantsand asylum seekers, government officials in the United States and Mexico, attorneys, academicresearchers, humanitarian staff, and other legal monitors. Researchers spoke with 65 migrants andasylum seekers in person in the Mexican cities of Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras, and CiudadAcuña in August 2021 and more than 50 additional interviews with migrants and asylum seekers inMexico were carried out by telephone between July and August 2021. Interviews were conductedprimarily in Spanish with a limited number in English. The report draws on data from an electronic surveyof asylum seekers in Mexico conducted by Al Otro Lado between June and August 2021, as well asinformation from U.S. and Mexican government data, media sources, and other human rights reports.