Pedestrians wait to enter the United States at the San Isidro Port of Entry Border Crossing Bridge in Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday, March 20, 2022.
Caesar Rodriguez | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lift a comprehensive public health order that would allow the United States to deport more than 1.7 million immigrants, mostly along the southern border, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic.
In a statement Friday, the CDC said it would withdraw the May 23 order after giving the Department of Homeland Security time to review the current public health situation to give it time to expand a program to vaccinate immigrants entering the US CDC, agency spokeswoman Kristen Nordland said.
The Trump administration first issued the order in March 2020 under a public health law known as Title 42 to stop the spread of Covid-19 across the country’s land borders with Mexico and Canada.
However, human rights groups have denounced Title 42 as a blanket deportation policy that deprives the United States of the right to apply for asylum under international law. The lion’s share of deportations occurred during the Biden administration.
The CDC under Biden extended the order in August because the Delta variant has spread around the world, but has made an exception for unaccompanied minors. In January, the CDC decided to maintain discipline because Omicron created an unprecedented wave of alternative infections.
Last year, dozens of leading health experts across the United States denounced Title 42 as “discriminatory and unreasonable,” with “no scientific basis for measuring public health.” They called on Walensky and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Bessera to withdraw the policy. They argued that the United States could protect public health and meet its humanitarian obligations by masking and implementing tests and vaccinations at the border.
Harold Koh, a top State Department lawyer, wrote a gruesome internal memo criticizing Biden’s policy as “inhumane” and “illegal” as he left the administration in October.
Leading Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have repeatedly called on Biden to withdraw from Title 42. Republicans and conservative Democrats want to maintain this policy as the Department of Homeland Security prepares for a significant increase in border crossings.
Sen. Joe Manchin, DWV, in a letter this week asked Walensky to extend the title to 42 because the more contagious Omicron BA.2 variant has spread around the world. Arizona’s Sen. Kirsten Cinema, which shares a long border with Mexico, also supports maintaining discipline.
The CDC is simplifying the public health system as covid infections and hospital admissions have dropped by more than 90% since the peak of Omicron growth in January. The public health agency ended its alert for cruise ships this week.
The CDC said on Friday that 97% of people in the United States live in counties where they no longer need to wear masks.