The meaning of Title 42 explained as Biden labels order 'necessary'

Yasmine Leung October 13, 2021
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Joe Biden has continued the use of Donald Trump’s Title 42 despite criticism from senior state officials, but what does the order actually imply? Here’s the meaning explained.

Title 42 disagreements cause internal strife

Joe Biden’s senior legal advisor, Harold Koh, resigned from his position on 2 October 2021 because of his disagreement with the president’s continued use of former president Donald Trump’s Title 42 policy.

Koh’s letter focused on the effects of the order on Haitians, which he claimed were “illegal”, “inhumane” and “not worthy of this administration”.

His resignation is the second in the administration at senior level. Daniel Foote announced his decision to quit as special envoy for Haiti on 22 September 2021, writing he would not be associated with the “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants”.

At least 937,628 Title 42 expulsions occurred between October 2020 and August 2021, according to the US Department of Homeland Security, mostly Haitian nationals. There has been an influx of refugees, some following civil unrest triggered by the assassination of Haiti president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

Title 42 explained

The policy was introduced in March 2020 during the Trump era as a response to the global pandemic.

A clause of the 1944 Public Health Services Law states the government is permitted to restrict individuals entering the country during public health emergencies.

Trump used the clause to expel migrants at US borders without offering them a chance to apply for asylum, stating growing danger from the virus.

Biden proceeded with Title 42 by expelling people at the Southwest Border as part of his covid-19 mitigation procedures.

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On 16 July 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that made unaccompanied non-citizen children exempt from Title 42.

Immediately after Koh’s resignation, another Title 42 assessment was published that stated after reviewing the threat from the covid delta variant and risk of transmission, the order “continues to be necessary at this time”.

The Department of Homeland Security defended the decision, citing it would be reviewed every 60 days.

Social media’s take on the order

A sensitive topic as this is always prone to debate and criticism, particularly in difficult circumstances such as a pandemic.

Here’s just some of the views we found online:

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.