This week, we read about states suing over the end of Title 42, Ukrainians left in ‘legal limbo’ at the border, and how ICE is prioritizing cases to manage the immigration backlog.
Missouri, Arizona, and Louisiana are suing the Biden administration over its plan to end the Title 42 policy. Title 42 is a controversial Trump-era policy that has prevented millions of immigrants from seeking asylum due to COVID-related justification.
The suit claims that the CDC violated the Administrative Procedures Act by not allowing for a comment period on the cancellation of the policy.
However, the CDC did not use such notice and comment when it was originally put in place. Instead, the Trump administration used a different provision of the law that required the CDC to review the policy every two months.
The suit targets nearly every agency involved with the public health measure and the border. The claim argues that canceling the policy will result in a surplus of migrants crossing the border.
Going forward, the Biden administration plans to use other methods to manage migrants at the border. This includes another controversial Trump-era policy called “Remain in Mexico.”
Due to conflicting information from the Biden administration, thousands of Ukrainian refugees are stuck without a clear way to seek asylum. Many Ukrainians living in the U.S. are having difficulty reuniting with their family members seeking refuge in the U.S.
Over the last few weeks, the U.S.-Mexico border has become a popular port of entry for Ukrainians seeking asylum. However, many of them are being detained without ways to contact their loved ones in the U.S.
The southern border is still officially closed under Title 42 until May 23rd. The Biden administration also plans on taking measures to speed up the asylum process when the policy is lifted.
Initially, Ukrainian refugees were blocked from entering via the U.S.-Mexico border. However, three weeks ago, they began admitting Ukrainian migrants based on humanitarian parole. The Biden Administration also announced it would admit up to 100,000 Ukrainian measures through various means. This positive news gave asylum seekers hope. Though, once many of them arrived at the border, they found things were not as easy as it seemed.
“It’s horrific,” said Julia Bikbova, immigration attorney. “It’s getting into a crisis situation right now like no other day I’ve seen.”
Ukrainians arriving at the border have had little access to their phones, making it difficult to communicate with loved ones in the U.S.
They’ve also had to endure poor conditions, such as cramped sleeping spaces and little access to bathrooms and showers.
“There is no rhyme or reason why they treated people like this,” said Mark Lehmkuhler, a man who awaits his Ukrainian fiancée to be processed. “Nobody was prepared.”
The Biden administration is potentially clearing hundreds of thousands of immigration cases to help reduce the backlog in the court. In a recent memo, ICE announced it would be trying to clear cases considered to be low priority.
There are an estimated 700,000 cases in the court backlog. Due to the pandemic and other compounding reasons, the backlog is the biggest it has ever been. This has resulted in asylum seekers waiting years for their cases to even be heard.
The Biden administration is trying to reduce the backlog before an expected increase in migrants crossing the border. Increased numbers are anticipated with the sunset of Title 42 in May, a policy that prevents migrants from seeking asylum.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the Biden administration is focused on enforcing immigration laws on individuals that pose a threat to public safety. He contends that this new measure is in line with that focus.
The plan will go into effect this month.
Border officials have taken certain measures to speed up the process for migrants fleeing persecution. This may lead to criticism from conservatives who could view this as ‘going easy’ on undocumented people.