This Thursday, the COVID-era immigration policy Title 42 will expire. Initiated by the Trump administration, it allowed for the expulsion of migrants at the border under a public health directive. It lifts as numbers of encounters at the border continue to skyrocket – instances grew from 646,822 in 2020 to 2,766 in 2022, and have already surpassed 1.544 million this year. These are staggering and historic numbers. Border Patrol cannot handle the sheer quantity, processing centers are overrun and inefficient, legitimate asylum seekers and migrants are being delayed access for years while the US government attempts to handle the illegal entries. Title 42 was not meant to be a sustained solution, but its expiration – without a replacement policy in place – means that this summer will see a humanitarian tragedy at the US southern border. Notably, polls show that the American public is not very divided on this question; by and large, Americans support and encourage legal immigration, and condemn the chaos – the humanitarian disaster, financial confusion, and resource misallocation – that is the result of loose and unserious border policy. And yet, Administration after Administration, Congress after Congress, drags its feet and leaves policy stopgaps to the courts.
Andrew Selee is the President of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a global nonpartisan institution that seeks to improve immigration and integration policies. He also chairs MPI Europe’s Administrative Council. Prior to MPI, Dr. Selee spent 17 years at the Woodrow Wilson Center where he founded the Center’s Mexico Institute, and served as the Center’s VP for Programs and Executive VP. He has also worked on staff in the US Congress, served on the Board of Directors of the YMCA, and is a columnist for Mexico’s largest newspaper El Universal. His most recent book is Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together.