Biden administration doubles down on using Trump policies to deport migrants from US

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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week doubled down on the Biden administration’s use of a controversial Trump-era policy known as Title 42, dismissing recent criticism from a former senior official from the State Department who called the policy “illegal” and “inhumane.”

In an interview broadcast Tuesday at an international security conference hosted by the nonprofit Soufan Center in Doha, Qatar, Mayorkas told Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff that Headline 42 “is not an immigration policy that we in this administration would adopt.” On the contrary, he insisted, politics is seen as a “public health imperative”.

Migrants leave a camp in Del Rio, Texas to stock up on food in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 22, as U.S. Border Patrol officers watch from their vehicles. (John Moore / Getty Images)

Title 42, which was used by the Trump and Biden administrations to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants who entered the United States across the border with Mexico, refers to an obscure public health authority that allows the government to ” prevent non-citizens from entering the country. during a pandemic. The Trump administration first invoked Title 42 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, effectively sealing off the southern border. An emergency order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowed immigration officials to quickly deport mainly Mexican and Central American migrants to their countries of origin without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum or d ‘other protections in the United States.

According to Associated press, White House Trump pressured the CDC to issue its initial Title 42 order in March 2020 over objections from top scientists at the agency. These health experts have argued that there is no evidence that the policy will slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While human rights defenders and public health experts asked for the policy to be revoked, the Biden administration instead defended it in federal court. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, 938,045 migrants were excluded of the United States under Title 42 between October 2020 and August 2021, including more than 7,000 Haitians who had attempted to cross the border at Del Rio, Texas in late September.

Haitian migrants seeking asylum wait to board a van for transport from Del Rio, Texas, United States, September 24, 2021 (Nick Wagner / Xinhua via Getty Images)

Asylum-seeking Haitian migrants wait to board a van for transport from Del Rio, Texas on September 24. (Nick Wagner / Xinhua via Getty Images)

Last week Politico reported that Harold Koh, outgoing senior adviser and sole political representative on the State Department’s legal team, issued a scathing internal memo claiming that the Biden administration’s use of Title 42 to deport migrants, especially those fleeing Haiti, violates US and international laws against returning people to countries where they fear persecution, death or torture.

Koh wrote that the deportations to Haiti, which suffers from widespread violence, food insecurity and political unrest, are “inhumane” and “not worthy of this administration which I support so strongly.” Koh’s scathing reviews echo those of Daniel Foote, the administration’s special envoy to Haiti who resigned to protest the mass deportations last month, as well as several Democratic lawmakers who called on Biden to end deportations to Haiti.

Isikoff asked Mayorkas to respond to Koh’s memo, noting that the secretary himself had come to the United States as a refugee from Cuba. While Mayorkas said it is “heartbreaking” that a “significant percentage” of Haitian migrants recently arrived at the border are deported under Title 42, such action is “necessary as a public health imperative” .

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a White House press briefing September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Mayorkas announced that the influx of Haitian immigrants camping under the Del Rio Bridge in Texas has been cleared.  (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a White House press briefing on September 24. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

In the interview, Mayorkas also touched on the Biden administration’s efforts to combat domestic terrorism, as well as the recent testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who told lawmakers that the social network was deliberately promoting harmful content, including conspiracy theories and disinformation about the 2020 presidential election. While Mayorkas said “it is clear that we are seeing ideologies of hate, false narratives being spread through social media,” he declined to say whether Facebook and other social media companies have actively contributed to the rise. national extremism.

“I’m not ready to say they’re part of the problem,” Mayorkas said.

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