NEW YORK – Title 42, the immigration restrictions put in place by the Trump administration in March 2020 to curtail to spread of Covid and other infectious diseases, was extended during the Biden administration, blocking hundreds of thousands of migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. in recent years. Yet, under a federal court ruling last week, immigration officials can no longer turn back asylum seekers, and Title 42 is set to expire on Wednesday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today released the following statement as New York prepares for the potential for an influx of busses to arrive in New York City as early as next week once Title 42 is set to end:

“Throughout its history New York has welcomed immigrants with open arms, and their success has been our success. This was true when New York was founded by the newest Americans, and it was true this spring when dozens and then hundreds of asylum seekers began arriving daily at the Port Authority Bus Terminal after long, arduous, and dangerous journeys. Together, we did what we have always done — go to extraordinary lengths to welcome these new New Yorkers, ensure they had comfortable places to stay and provided them with food, clothes, and other resources while they awaited their legal proceedings. We’ve already received more than 31,000 asylum seekers into our city, and currently have open 60 emergency shelters, four humanitarian relief centers, and two welcome centers. We’ve placed thousands of children in schools and, all told, we’ve already spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars paying to cloth, feed, house, and support this deeply in-need population.   

“The flow of asylum seekers to New York City has slowed in recent months but the tool that the federal government has used to manage those coming over the border is set to expire this week, and we have been told in no uncertain terms that, beginning today, we should expect an influx of busses coming from the border and that more than 1,000 additional asylum seekers will arrive in New York City every week. We are in urgent need for help, and it’s time for our state and federal partners to act — especially those in Congress who refuse to provide the financial resources or issue temporary work authorizations necessary for these individuals to live properly. New York City has managed this crisis entirely on its own. We’ve asked both the state and federal government for funding, for space to house asylum seekers, for staff, for workforce authorizations and, most importantly, a long-term strategy to ensure asylum seekers are sent to other cities. Our requests for assistance have been mostly ignored. And while the New York federal delegation has repeatedly advocated for funding to be sent back to New York City, many in Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — have refused to lift a finger.   

“This can’t continue. With the expiration of Title 42 just days away, we need the federal government — both in the administration and in Congress — to share their plans to move asylum seekers to other cities, to allow asylum seekers to work, and to send aid to the cities that have borne the brunt of this crisis. We need our partners in the state to acknowledge they too have a responsibility here, and to provide the resources we’ve asked. We need advocates that speak on behalf of the most vulnerable to step up and press the state and federal government to act. And we need New Yorkers to understand that, so far, they have been asked to shoulder this burden almost entirely alone, despite the fact that this challenge originated far beyond our city’s borders.

“Our shelter system is full, and we are nearly out of money, staff, and space. Truth be told, if corrective measures are not taken soon, we may very well be forced to cut or curtail programs New Yorkers rely on, and the pathway to house thousands more is uncertain. These are not choices we want to make, but they may become necessary, and I refuse to be forced to choose new arrivals over current New Yorkers. I’ll say it again — we need a plan, we need assistance, and we need it now.”

What is Title 42, and how did it start?

On March, 20, 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Trump previewed a measure to curb “mass uncontrolled cross-border movement,” a move that would ultimately go further in restricting migration than any of his administration’s previous hardline border policies.

That day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield invoked a World War II-era public health law to authorize U.S. border officials to expel migrants. The law, found in Title 42 of the U.S. code, grants the government the “power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property” to stop a contagious disease from spreading in the U.S.

The order Redfield signed said the expulsions were necessary to control the spread of COVID-19 in border facilities, protect U.S. agents from the virus and preserve medical resources. While Redfield’s initial order was enacted for 30 days, he extended it for another month in April 2020 and then indefinitely in May 2020.

Despite its stated public health justification, the CDC order authorizing the deportations was signed over the objection of top experts at the agency who did not believe the unprecedented policy was justified, according to congressional testimony and CBS News reporting.

Officials refer to a deportation under Title 42 as an “expulsion” since it is not carried out under immigration law, which imposes further penalties on those who are removed, such as multi-year banishments from the U.S.

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