By Vatican News staff writer
Amid the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant, US authorities have renewed a public health order dating from the previous administration, which allows US officials to quickly expel migrants arriving at the borders, absent court hearings.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement explaining the rule, saying that it “shall remain in effect until the CDC Director determines that the danger of further introduction of Covid-19 into the United States from covered non-citizens has ceased to be a serious danger to the public health, and the Order is no longer necessary to protect the public health.”
In response to this latest development, Bishops in the US have called on authorities to reverse course on the expanded use of expedited removal of the Title 42 policy, and to reexamine its use especially in light of the US’s past commitments to restoring due process in the legal immigration system.
Guarantee due process and protection of asylum seekers
In a statement issued on Saturday by USCCB committee chairman on Migration, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, the bishops pointed out that they had welcomed executive orders signed by President Joe Biden in February, related to removing barriers and restoring due process in the immigration system.
The orders included actions aimed at addressing root causes of migration from Central America and expanding opportunities for legal migration; creating a task force to reunify families separated during the prior administration; and strengthening integration and inclusion efforts for new Americans.
The bishops further noted that “while Congress did not intend for expedited removal to be used against bona fide asylum seekers, it is widely believed that its use undermines due process and impedes access to protections guaranteed by both domestic and international law.”
Several advocacy groups that have pushed to end the policy have long argued that Title 42 is being used less as a way to control the spread of the coronavirus, and more as a means to curb migration and mitigate political pressure from political opponents. So far, tens of thousands of migrants have been expelled back to Mexico using the Title 42 order.
“Strong due process is vital for the rule of law to thrive in accordance with the common good, and we cannot have a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system without robust due process protections,” the bishops stressed.
Appeal to US authorities
Reiterating Pope Francis’ numerous appeals for the protection of migrants, the bishops urged the Biden administration to work “as a nation to welcome, protect, promoted and integrate migrants according to their God-given dignity.”
While underlining the importance of being mindful of public health concerns, the bishops further expressed encouragement for policies that are supported by sound rationales, and stated their opposition for those “with a disparate impact on families, children and other vulnerable populations.”
In this regard, they acknowledged the administration’s recent efforts to expand vaccination access for migrants - a move, they added, which is “critical to limiting the spread of Covid-19.”
The Bishops concluded their statement invoking the intercession of St. Joseph, the patron of families, whom the Church celebrates this year, to “intercede on behalf of vulnerable migrant families, especially those traveling with children and the elderly.”