Immigration lawyers and some Democrats have pointed out the inconsistency around vaccination status in the Biden administration’s border policies.
John Bruning, a staff attorney of the Refugee Immigrant Program at The Advocates for Human Rights, criticized the White House and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“How is this reconciled with Mayorkas doubling down on Title 42 expulsions? Migrants are being summarily deported whether or not they have been vaccinated,” Bruning said in a Twitter post.
Julian Castro, the former U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary who served under the Obama administration, said in a Twitter post that it was “great news” that borders will be reopened but called for an end to Title 42.
“Now our ports of entry should reopen to allow people to make an asylum claim,” Castro said in the post on Wednesday. “Title 42 is a stain on this nation and it should end.”
The decision to maintain Title 42 comes as the Biden administration grapples with the highest number of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in two decades.
Earlier Tuesday, Mayorkas also defended the administration’s use of Title 42, telling Yahoo News that it is a “public health authority” and not an “immigration policy.”
“It is not an immigration policy that we in this administration would embrace,” Mayorkas said in an interview with Yahoo. “But we view it as a public health imperative as the Centers for Disease Control has so ordered.”
“We’re in the midst of a pandemic,” he said. “For anyone to think it’s business as usual I think would be, frankly, ignoring a pandemic that has taken more than 700,000 American lives.”
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, said in a Twitter post Tuesday that the Biden administration was expelling asylum seekers without due process and “sending families and children back to imminent danger in the name of ‘public health.'”
RAICES was among the several groups that challenged the health policy in a lawsuit last month. A U.S. appeals court recently ruled that the Biden administration could continue using Title 42 while the lawsuit proceeds.