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FAQ: The End of of Title 42

With the end of Title 42, many may have questions about the implications of this change for immigration law, asylum seekers, and more. Jamie Englert, Director of JFCS Immigration Legal Services, and Ivonne Smith-Tapia, Director of JFCS Refugee & Immigrant Services, help explain what Title 42 was and the current extent of what we know about the impact of it ending.

What is Title 42?

Title 42 was implemented in March 2020 to contain the spread of Coronavirus by preventing people from entering the US. Its authority comes from Title 42 of a 1944 public health law allowing curbs on migration in the name of protecting public health.

  • Under Title 42 (From March 2020-May 11, 2023) migrants were either returned to their home countries or sent back into Mexico. Authorities expelled migrants at the US-Mexico border more than 2.8 million times since the policy began, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.
  • At 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 11, 2023, the Biden Administration ended the public health emergency, removing the directives of Title 42.
  • Since 2021, Human Rights First says it’s identified more than 13,000 incidents of kidnapping, torture, rape or other violent attacks on people blocked or expelled to Mexico under Title 42.

What was predicted to happen when it ended?

It was predicted that when Title 42 ended there would be a huge rush of individuals to the border. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expected to be overwhelmed.

What is actually happening?

The Biden administration has been making efforts to send the message to those who might be tempted to enter without inspection that there are consequences to circumventing the asylum process.

  • Enhanced Border Security and Immigration Enforcement and increased the budget for USCIS to adjudicate Asylum applications faster
  • CBP implemented a software program called CBP One which allows people to make an appointment to enter at a port of entry and seek Asylum in an organized manner

There are special programs being implemented to allow for organized parole entry from specific countries (Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Venezuela) to minimize the number of people to manage at the border. The results of allowing these populations to enter lawfully with a sponsor has shown immediate results. 

  • Border encounters of Ukrainians trying to cross illegally fell from 940/day to a dozen per day.
  • The unlawful crossings by Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans fell from 84,000 in December to 2,000 in February.  
  • Overall border apprehensions fell in January and February by 42% compared to December 2022.

There are now limitations on those who entered outside of a border crossing station that no longer allows them to apply for Asylum, to discourage crossing at other points.

  • Implementation of 5 year bars from reentry being leveled against those who don’t abide by the policy
  • Since Friday, May 12, 2023, actual arrivals have been approximately 50% daily of what they were seeing prior to the end of Title 42. 

What are we seeing so far in Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania?

To date we have not seen a surge of new arrivals in Pittsburgh from the southern border; however we have been seeing the Moshannon Valley Detention center, which has approximately 700 beds, begin removing individuals from their center (via Greyhound to Pittsburgh in some cases) to make room for the “impending influx.”  Whether or not they will fill those beds remains to be seen. 

Casa San Jose (local non-profit serving the Hispanic population locally) has been working to ensure people who are being sent to Pittsburgh have access to food and shelter while they are waiting for the next leg of their journey, wherever that may be.

JFCS Immigration Legal Services is here and available (with other legal service providers locally) to provide consultations to individuals about their options, information on how to change your address with the immigration court and where to report for ICE check-in appointments.

  • Unfortunately, JFCS does not represent adults in asylum proceedings. There is a list of free legal service providers that is circulated by the EOIR (immigration court) and can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/ProBonoPA/download
  • Jamie Englert, Director of JFCS Immigration Legal Services: “We know that legal services are essential for asylum seekers. For those who may be coming to Pittsburgh, we’re here to help them understand their legal options and give them the information they need about how the immigration system works so that they can work towards the best outcome possible.”

JFCS Refugee & Immigrant Services can help arriving asylum seekers connect to existing resources and organizations in the community that can provide services to them, including housing, food assistance, medical care, and more. Those already in Allegheny County can request help connecting to services at isacpittsburgh.org

  • Ivonne Smith-Tapia, Director of JFCS Refugee & Immigrant Services: “For those individuals who choose to stay in Pittsburgh, our Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC) program is here to help ensure that they can navigate the local systems and connect to all the services they need to build their lives here in our city.”

If you have additional questions or are seeking legal advice, please reach out to us for information and possible referral to services that can help.