The Biden administration announced its intentions to expand Title 42, a law that focuses on mitigating the spread of infectious diseases and viruses, among other things. Biden attempted to undo a policy implemented by the Trump administration in 2020. Now, his administration is embracing Title 42 as a means to expand legal migration.

The Trump administration invokes Title 42 in 2020

The Trump administration was the most recent one to invoke the law. They used it as a way to crack down on illegal migration in response to COVID-19. Prior to 2020, Title 42 went mostly untouched. The only other usage in history came nearly a century prior, in 1929. There, Title 42 prevented the spread of meningitis by disallowing China and the Philippines from entering US ports via ship.

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Since 2020, the United States has deported over 2 million immigrants, starting with the Trump administration and continuing with the Biden administration. Despite efforts to end the policy at the beginning of his presidential term, Biden’s recent redirect looks like another attempt to appease both sides of the aisle.

Now, Biden is expanding it

In his first speech focused exclusively on migration policy, Biden introduced the Title 42 expansion, explaining his administration’s intentions to crack down on migrations from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. However, Biden noted that his administration plans to use these increasingly stringent new policies as a means to make room for more legal migration in the near future.

With a financial sponsor, migrants from the aforementioned countries could enter the US legally on a temporary basis. The administration plans to cap entries at about 30,000 per month. They will also ramp up border security to further deter illegal migrants from attempting to enter the country.

If the administration is able to do so, Mexico would have to agree to accept migrants from the four countries. Previously, they only accepted expulsions from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador before the Biden administration convinced them to accept Venezuelan migrants in October 2022.

Venezuela proves it can work

Mexico agreeing to accept Venezuelan migrants functioned as something of a pilot program for Biden’s plans regarding Title 42. As a result of the agreement with Mexico, where the Biden administration legally admitted 24,000 Venezuelan migrants while discouraging unlawful entry through increased border security, illegal migration from Venezuela dropped dramatically while migration from other countries remained consistent.

Additionally, Biden’s plans appear to be a response to increased levels of migration from Cuba and Nicaragua specifically. Both countries have restrictive policies on deportation from the United States. As a result, many Cuban and Nicaraguan migrants were ultimately released and permitted to seek asylum in the US.

The administration hopes that the Title 42 expansion would further discourage migrants from Cuba and Nicaragua from entering the US illegally. The administration is also utilizing pathways to allow a consistent flow of legal migration. Additionally, they plan to use parole authority to regulate migration, a policy used to accept refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Following a handful of attempts to do away with Title 42 completely, the Biden administration is now embracing the policy.