Judge Strikes Down Title 42 Policy: A Long Overdue Step Toward Rebuilding the US Asylum System

November 15, 2022
Last modified: 
November 15, 2022

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2022—Today, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued a decision vacating and ending Title 42, more than two and a half years after the purported public health policy went into effect. This decision to find the Title 42 policy in violation of law should restore normal immigration law at the border after nearly 2.5 million summary expulsions since March 2020, although it remains unclear exactly when normal border processing will resume.

Judge Sullivan found that Title 42 was arbitrary and lacked reasoning because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not properly justified the policy, nor had it supported the extreme measure of suspending immigration laws with sufficient evidence that the policy was necessary.

The Trump administration invoked Title 42—an obscure public health law—at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow the Department of Homeland Security to expel migrants back to Mexico or their home countries without letting them seek asylum. The Biden administration continued it even while millions of people crossed the southern border every month through ports of entry and international flights continued throughout the pandemic. On April 1, 2022, the Biden administration announced plans to end Title 42 by May 23, 2022. However, the April termination was blocked in court and until now the Title 42 policy was still being enforced at the border.

The following statement is from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, director of policy for the American Immigration Council:

“Immigration issues should be addressed with immigration laws, not public health laws. Title 42 was the greatest restriction on asylum since Congress passed the Refugee Act in 1980. It was a failed border management policy that caused chaos along the border, immeasurable harm to innocent people seeking our protection, and diminished our standing on the world stage.

“Judge Sullivan’s decision is an important step toward ending the unjustified use of this policy, correctly recognizing that the CDC has never properly justified a wholesale suspension of normal immigration laws at the border. It is a long overdue step toward rebuilding a humanitarian protection system at the border that is safe, humane, and orderly.

“The American Immigration Council is relieved to see this decision and hopes to soon see the end of this horrific policy for good. Rather than view asylum seekers with fear and suspicion, we should work on creating a flexible humanitarian protection system that respects the lawful right to seek asylum and works to address the root causes of migration.”

The American Immigration Council has research and other resources on asylum in the United States and policies affecting asylum seekers at the border, including experts available to speak on the impact of Title 42, rising border encounters in 2021, The “Migrant Protection Protocols,” and Metering and Asylum Turnbacks.


For more information, contact: 

Brianna Dimas at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7557. 

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.  

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