Awareness - August 2 2021 - We Welcome Refugees

Awareness - August 2 2021

CDC Director issued a new letter extending the use of Title 42 to expel migrants at U.S. borders

Despite reports earlier in July that the Biden administration would stop using Title 42 to expel families by July 31st, the policy has not only been continued but reinforced by a new order from CDC Director Walensky on August 2. Director Walensky cites capacity constraints at DHS facilities, an increasing number of CBP encounters, and the emergence of the new Delta strain of COVID-19 in making her determination. The exception for unaccompanied children is retained in this new order, and it also allows for other exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The order has no end date but is to be reviewed every 60 days to determine whether or not it is still deemed necessary to protect public health.

As the Biden administration continues using Title 42, the ACLU has resumed a lawsuit against the administration that has been on pause for months as the parties have been in negotiations over use of the policy. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt stated on Monday that negotiations were at “an impasse” and that the Biden administration had left them with “no choice but to return to court.”

The administration also announced the resumption of “expedited removal” to enable quick deportation of families who are not processed under Title 42. Expedited removal has been used under multiple administrations to give authority to immigration officials to deport certain migrants without a court hearing before an immigration judge. 

Governor Abbott issued an order restricting the transportation of migrants in Texas

The DOJ has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott, which restricts the transportation of migrants. This order has created concern among nonprofit organizations  who serve near the border, as their employees could now be stopped and have their vehicles impounded by DPS officers for transporting newly arrived migrants. The ACLU has also expressed concern that the order could encourage racial profiling.

Included in the lawsuit was a declaration signed by Chief Brian Hastings, CBP Chief Patrol Agent for the Rio Grande Valley, who stated that officers in the Valley had contracted transportation for at least 120,000 migrants this year, and that this order from Governor Abbott “would severely impact CBP’s daily operations by decreasing border security enforcement at the southwest border thereby increasing threats to national security; decreasing enforcement at checkpoints; and increasing duration for processing.”

A second whistleblower letter further exposed poor conditions at the Fort Bliss emergency shelter for unaccompanied children

On July 28, 2021, a whistleblower letter from two federal employees exposed deeply disturbing conditions at the Fort Bliss emergency intake site for unaccompanied migrant children. This is the second whistleblower complaint this year alleging neglect, mismanagement, and mistreatment of children at this site near El Paso, Texas. In June, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra told the press that HHS (which oversees these emergency housing facilities) was making progress amidst allegations of shelter mismanagement, and at that time he reported the number of children at the site had reduced to 790.

However, reports as of the last week of July indicate that the number of children at Fort Bliss increased to 1,692. The latest whistleblower complaint also added further weight to the ongoing allegations of poor case management, filthy conditions, children being denied proper medical care, and unqualified caregivers managing the site. On August 2nd, the Office of Inspector General for HHS announced that a formal investigation into these allegations has been launched to “help ensure that Fort Bliss and other EISs provide adequate case management services.”

Take action here to join hundreds of advocates in asking Secretary Becerra to immediately address these allegations and ensure that all children in HHS are receiving appropriate care.