MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday the 5th of January, 2023.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
First up: another immigration policy flip-flop.
In November, a federal judge ordered an end to the public-health order known as Title 42. The policy permits immigration authorities to expel certain immigrants before they can claim asylum. Both the Trump and Biden administration used the policy to control an uptick in illegal immigration.
REICHARD: Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan found Title 42 had no public health basis and ignored the rights of immigrants. He gave the Biden administration five weeks to end the policy. But that’s come and gone, and Title 42 is still in place. WORLD’s Compassion beat reporter Addie Offereins joins us to talk about why.
BROWN: Welcome, Addie!
ADDIE OFFEREINS, REPORTER: Hi Myrna, glad to be here.
BROWN: So, why didn’t the administration end Title 42 five weeks after the ruling?
OFFEREINS: So when Judge Sullivan initially ended the policy in November, I spoke with some shelters along the border. And they were skeptical that the policy would actually end on time because of the legal wrangling in the past. So it wasn't surprising at all when the ending did face legal challenges. A coalition of Republican states made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to keep the policy. They argued ending it would worsen the crisis at the border. Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily delayed the court order to end Title 42 and demanded the Biden administration respond by the end of the day before the policy was supposed to end. The administration asked the Supreme Court to reject this bid by the states to keep the policy but they did ask for one more week to prepare fr the end of the policy until after Christmas.
BROWN: How did the justices respond?
OFFEREINS: So, the Supreme Court didn't grant the Biden administration's request and suspended Judge Sullivan's order to end the policy until the justices could hear arguments in February about whether the state should be able to intervene in this case at all. So immigration officials can still use the policy on certain immigrants.
BROWN: So for now Title 42 remains in place. What’s next?
OFFEREINS: I talked with Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute. Chishti said that we should keep in mind that Title 42 isn't the main policy being used at the border. The policy can't be used on immigrants from countries who have a tense diplomatic relationship with the United States, and who won't accept their immigrants back—like Nicaragua and Cuba. And these account for the growing majority of the influx. Title 42 was only used in 29% of the over 230,000 encounters with immigrants in November, which was one of the highest monthly totals so far. So though it's really not being used as much as it once was, Chisti says Title 42 has become a talking point for smugglers, which has in fact contributed to the large numbers we are seeing at the border. Immigrants not expelled under Title 42 are processed under Title 8. Under this law, immigrants are subject to expedited removal if they do not have authorization to enter the country and they can be expelled, unless the immigrant asked for asylum, then they are given an interview to determine if they have a credible fear of persecution. So right now most people are processed, given a date to appear in court for their asylum hearing, and released into the United States. Here's Chishti:
CHISHTI: You have to be detaining people. Because otherwise, all people have to do is show up at the border and claim credible fear. That doesn't create any confidence in the system.Then the last thing we have to do is have a robust system because for people who pass the credible fear determination, then they have to get an asylum hearing quickly. Right now what happens then it takes seven years from the signing period complete, because it goes to a judge. The courts have a backlog like 1.9 million case backlog today. Making a case for asylum becomes an incentive, it becomes a magnet for people to come to the country. It needs to be more efficient and more fair.
BROWN: How has the legal ping-pong affected border crossings?
OFFEREINS: Border crossings have increased and encampments along the border have grown is where it has spread about the possible end of the policy and especially because of all the uncertainty surrounding it. Mayor Oscar Leeser in the border city of El Paso, Texas declared a state of emergency as about 20,000 immigrants waded across in Juarez, Mexico outside El Paso. He said crossings could jump to 5,000 per day if the policy is lifted. El Paso shelters are running out have room and some immigrants are sleeping on the streets, which is really unfortunate as Texas temperatures can drop suddenly during the winter. Officials announced the city will use two vacant schools and three hotels to shelter immigrants. And El Paso isn't the only city that's overwhelmed. Pastor Carlos Navarro ministers to immigrants in Brownsville, a small Texas border city about 12 hours east of El Paso. This city sees 1,700 to 1,900 crossings a day. He told WORLD's Bonnie Pritchett in an interview that he's worried how his community will react if crossings continue to increase.
NAVARRO: When that happens, I don't want to know that people are already angry. The residents in the city because [they are] seeing too many people.
OFFEREINS: His partners in Mexico are also overwhelmed.
NAVARRO: They're collecting, I mean, they're just gathering there. Hundreds of people 1000s of people. There's no There's no place anymore. There's no There's no camps, there's no refuges, there's no buildings to hold them anymore.
BROWN: Addie Offereins is WORLD’s reporter on the compassion beat. To keep up with her immigration coverage and more, head to wng.org and sign up for Addie's weekly newsletter called Compassion. Addie, thank you.
OFFEREINS: Thanks for having me, Myrna.
WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.
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