Sunday marks two years of turning away children; Title 42 still causing harm to children and familiesChildren of Immigrants
Sunday marks two years since the U.S. government began misusing an obscure section of federal law known as Title 42 to turn away children, families and adults seeking safety at our border. And while the Biden Administration has ended the practice for unaccompanied children, the policy remains in place for families and caregivers.
“On the policy’s second anniversary, we reiterate our call for the Biden Administration to end the expulsion of people seeking safety at our borders, including children in families, without consideration for their safety,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus on Children. “We are pleased that the President no longer uses Title 42 to turn back unaccompanied children, but the continued expulsion of children in families — and single adults, who are sometimes their caregivers — harms children by returning them to violence and separating them from family members. We urge the Administration to end Title 42 for everyone and to embrace policies that keep children safe and with their families.”
Nearly a year ago, First Focus on Children led more than 30 child advocacy organizations in calling on the Biden Administration to end Title 42 expulsions. The harms highlighted in that letter — including the re-traumatization of children fleeing danger — still remain. Administration officials have repeatedly acknowledged that turning away children would be inhumane and dangerous, yet they continue to turn away children in families. Human rights organizations have recorded almost 10,000 instances of kidnapping, torture, rape, and other violence against people expelled under Title 42 — including unaccompanied children and a disproportionate number of Black people seeking protection. The continued use of Title 42 for families and single adults also results in family separation. Parents make the impossible choice to send their children alone to the border after being expelled and experiencing danger and destitution. Additionally, border officials have forcibly separated children from parents or extended family members, then expelled those family members as single adults. As long as the Administration continues to use Title 42 — for anyone — children and their family members will continue to experience harm.
Title 42 has never been about public health. From the beginning, epidemiologists and other public health experts repeatedly stated that public health was a pretext for a policy of sending people to danger. The well-reasoned statements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on ending Title 42 for unaccompanied children applies to families and single adults too: COVID-19 cases are declining, and vaccines, testing, and masks are widely available in the United States. These mitigation measures, along with a robust network of community organizations and sponsors, mean that the government can protect everyone’s health and restore our country’s proud tradition of a welcoming and orderly process for those seeking safety.