The Biden administration should honor its commitment to immediately end Title 42 restrictions, which were imposed by former President Donald Trump to deny asylum seekers their basic, protected rights.
It would be a mistake for Democrats to shy away from dismantling this cruel plank of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.
By the end of 2019, the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies had already separated hundreds of children from their families, kept thousands more in overcrowded, unsanitary detention centers, and unleashed ICE and Customs and Border Protection operations to dehumanize, intimidate, and deport undocumented immigrants. Then, at the onset of COVID-19, Trump invoked Title 42 to deny asylum seekers arriving at our southern border their legal right to seek safety in the United States.
Immigrant communities like Little Village in Chicago, where I have lived for over 50 years, were emotionally and economically ravaged as families were terrorized by their own government.
Fast forward to 2022: Pandemic-related restrictions are being lifted across the country as hospitalizations return to their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic. The U.S. is establishing a “new normal”—a cautious return to pre-pandemic operations.
But even as mask mandates and other pandemic restrictions are lifted, the White House maintains Title 42 restrictions.
This March, a double standard was created when Ukrainian refugees were granted exemption from Title 42 restrictions. While those refugees should be admitted, I also believe we must treat Black and Latino immigrants, including Haitians, Mexicans, and Central Americans fleeing dire situations, with the same dignity.
Some immigrants from Latin America are coming from countries with higher vaccination rates than Ukraine, making any public health justification fall flat.
Instead of bowing to election-year pressures or the anti-immigrant tactics of the right, Democrats must support President Biden’s commitment to end Title 42 restrictions immediately and without delay.
Democrats ran on a platform to create a more humane immigration system and committed to reversing Trump’s cruel policies. We should deliver an end to Title 42 restrictions to restore access to asylum for everyone who comes to the U.S. seeking freedom and safety.
Immigrants deserve more than lip service. Legally and morally, this is the right thing to do.
Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives proudly serving the 4th Congressional District of Illinois since January 3, 2019. Born in Los Pinos in the Mexican state of Durango, Congressman García lives with his wife Evelyn in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Twitter: @RepChuyGarcia