Over a million migrants have been expelled from the U.S. under the controversial health law - FOX 9's Adam Klepp reports
YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - Title 42 has now been in place for over two years and used by two different presidencies.
The law allows the U.S. Government to deport migrants before they can seek asylum, citing that if they come across there’s a chance of them spreading COVID.
According to Customs and Border Protection statistics, over half of all migrants who have crossed into the united states this year have been either sent back to their home country or Mexico, under title 42.
As a deadline for the government to either extend the use of the policy or end it completely looms, the futures of millions of migrants hangs in the balance.
Some argue it’s one of the most effective tools the government can use to stop illegal immigration but others say it’s a human rights violation.
Over the last two years, millions of migrants have arrived in Mexican cities across the entire southern border.
However, not all of them are coming from the south.
According to the most up-to-date data from CBP, over 1.7 million migrants have been sent back to Mexico or their home country after crossing into the united states under Title 42 since it was implemented in 2020.
One of those migrants is Lionel Deras, who I met in a migrant shelter in Mexicali.
Deras says he is fleeing Honduras, a country in Central America.
He says he has attempted to cross into the United States seven times, including into Yuma, but claims Border patrol keeps sending him back to Mexico, and once even flew him back to Honduras.
“Once they held me for an hour before sending me back to Mexico. Another time they held me for 2 and a half months before sending me back,” Deras said.
Deras told me he's fleeing Honduras due to violence, and a lack of economic opportunity.
Honduras continues to have one of the highest murder rates in the entire world.
According to government figures, a staggering 3,651 people were killed in 2021 alone.
This is why many immigrant advocates say Title 42 needs to end, as they say it denies migrants their legal right to seek asylum.
“Title 42 is an illegal policy, it’s an inhumane policy, and it has subjected over 8-thousand people to harm and sometimes death over these last two years," Gia Del Pino, from the Kino Border Initiative said.
The Kino Border Initiative is based in Nogales, Arizona, but also has an office in Nogales, Mexico.
Just this past Monday, members of their group as well as migrants in Nogales protested Title 42 on the two-year anniversary of its implementation.
Del Pino says the Kino Border Initiative has partnered with the Florence Project, Pro-Bono Immigration lawyers, to give migrants legal advice in Mexico.
“They tell them right now essentially there is no asylum process, and the reason why is Title 42,” Del Pino said.
While groups like the Kino Border Initiative are urging the White House, and the CDC to end Title 42, others are pushing back.
Tim Roemer is the Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security.
He says the policy prevents law enforcement from being overwhelmed and helps public safety in American border cities like Yuma.
“That is not a solution, to just say we don’t like these policies and we should let everybody in,” Roemer said.
In fiscal year ’22, the United States is on pace to have two million apprehensions at the southern border, which would be a second straight record-breaking year.
Roemer says recent crossing numbers in the Yuma sector have reached 1,500 a day.
Ultimately he believes a long-term solution needs to come from Washington but for now Title 42 works.
“We need to be able to do things like title 42 to prevent this into spilling into something even worse.”
Despite Title 42, and continuous funding from the federal government for border security, migrants like Lionel Deras are not deterred.
He told me he was in Mexicali to cross for an eighth time, becoming increasingly desperate to make a new life in the united states.
“It’s their law as to why I can’t get in. The only way to get in is to evade border patrol,” Deras said.
The deadline to either extend or end Title 42 is coming up on April 2.
The Biden Administration says it’s preparing for what could be a surge in crossings if the policy ends, as an unknown number of asylum seekers are likely waiting in Mexico for the policy to go away.