CHICAGO – On the eve of US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, immigration advocates were optimistic that the incoming administration would end Title 42, a once-obscure rule that during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed border agents to reject migrants who might otherwise have qualified for asylum. While researching my forthcoming book, Precarious Protections, I interviewed lawyers working with unaccompanied immigrant children in Los Angeles who were confident that the new administration would restore the right to seek asylum in the United States. But that is not what happened.
The notion that asylum seekers are gaming the US immigration system with bogus claims is unfounded. On the contrary, under both of Biden’s predecessors, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, US immigration authorities interpreted the law too narrowly to protect most of the vulnerable children fleeing life-threatening violence in Central America.