‘Single most restrictive border policy’ in U.S. history ends May 11

Title 42 expiring will cause more issues for an immigration system over capacity and could extend more human rights violations for people seeking asylum

May 10, 2023 4:10 am
An aerial view of the American flags flying over an international bridge as immigrants line up next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence to seek asylum on Dec. 22, 2022 in El Paso, Texas.

An aerial view of the American flags flying over an international bridge as immigrants line up next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence to seek asylum on Dec. 22, 2022 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by John Moore / Getty Images)

Title 42 was never understood to be about public health but rather a convenient and vicious way to empower the Department of Homeland Security to turn asylum seekers away at the border.

It closed the border for asylum seekers and Title 42 has been an extraordinarily effective tool for law enforcement to push people back into Mexico, out of the public eye, and externalize our country’s responsibility to receive people seeking humanitarian protection at our borders.

The policy was invoked in March 2020, ostensibly as an emergency public health order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s been responsible for expelling more than 2.5 million from the U.S. border, many without due process.

When Title 42 expires on May 11, there is going to be an expected amount of chaos in the borderlands.

People move and migrate everyday and all over the world. That push and that flow happens even when borders are closed and because of that, pressure builds.

Already, thousands of people have gathered on the streets of cities like El Paso, Tijuana, and Matamoros, waiting for their chance to cross.

Of course they have.

When the era of Title 42 ends, the first thing to expect is that this will be depicted as a crisis along the entire political spectrum.

Since Biden took office Republican politicians have pushed the message that the border is open in spite of the fact that Title 42 has been the single most restrictive border policy in our history.

These cries of open borders will continue without nuance as they have never been based on reality but rather who is sitting in the White House. The bigger the crisis on the border the more hysterical voters could be when considering who to vote for in the next round of elections.

The crisis narrative from Democrats will be different.

They can’t blame their own policies for large groups of people coming to the U.S. so they will blame other countries and the migrants themselves.

Numbers will be the problem. Numbers will create a crisis. And once it is established, they will propose very inhumane and dangerous policies in the name of an emergency.

It’s already started.

Biden has already sent 1,500 active duty soldiers to the border. He has also revived a few of Trump’s most odious policies for border control.

People will be detained. People will be denied due process and access to counsel under the guise of emergency.

For the American public to go along with it we must believe there is a crisis.

Pay close attention to how politicians and pundits and journalists of every ilk categorize migration as illegal during this time.

This is another thing to expect when Title 42 ends: the further criminalization of people who come to the U.S. border seeking protection.

Nevermind that approaching and even crossing the border to seek asylum is perfectly sanctioned by U.S. and International law. That is unimportant if the project is laying the blame on people in migration.

Because what happens next will only work if we believe that migrants have done something wrong.

It can’t be our overreliance on a pretextual public health policy that caused the problem.

It can’t be the U.S. capitalism and military forcing people out of their countries.

It can’t be the wealthiest nations driving the climate change that is making people’s homelands unlivable.


The migrants need to have transgressed because that is the only way we can justify controlling them.

Because what happens next is a very dangerous shift in how our country treats people at borders. And it will happen right under our noses.

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Allegra Love
Allegra Love

Allegra Love is an immigration attorney from Santa Fe. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of New Mexico School of Law. She is the founder of and former director of Santa Fe Dreamers Project, a legal services organization serving immigrants and refugees. She also worked at the El Paso Immigration Collaborative to represent detained asylum seekers in the Southwest.