The number of people displaced globally has increased to 84 million
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said on Thursday that according to UNHCR estimates for the first half of 2021, the number of displaced people worldwide increased to more than 84 million. This is based on their records that over 4.3 million internal displacements were recorded between January and June, and approximately 1 million had returned to their homes during that time frame. Displacements this year have been largely driven by conflicts in Congo, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Myanmar, South Sudan and countries in west Africa’s Sahel region.
Ports of entry opened last Monday, but Title 42 still keeps asylum seekers out
Last Monday, ports of entry re-opened to non-essential travel for those who have been vaccinated, allowing families that have been separated by the border to reunite, and for local businesses to resume more normal operations as the flow of tourists resumes. In the meantime, those who approach the border to request asylum are still turned away under the Title 42 policy that remains in effect.
Title 42 was implemented in March 2020, and has led to over 1 million expulsions of migrants since that time, including unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers. Unaccompanied minors are now exempted from Title 42 expulsions, but adult asylum seekers and even families continue to be expelled. A report released last week quoted Anna Schuchat, a former senior official from the CDC, who told a Congressional committee that “the bulk of the evidence at that time did not support” the implementation of Title 42 as a public health measure. In late October, a group of 1,383 medical professionals from 49 states and U.S. territories issued letters calling on CDC Director Walensky to end the use of Title 42, saying that these expulsions “endangered thousands of people who seek asylum in the United States.”
HHS reported that 1,300 unaccompanied children were evacuated from Afghanistan to the United States
A report from Reuters last week revealed that 1,300 children were evacuated from Afghanistan to the United States without their parents or guardians. Many of the children were separated from their parents unintentionally during the evacuation. The Biden administration is reportedly working on a way to fast track the entry of the parents of these children, but there are many challenges. There have been over 26,000 requests for entry through humanitarian parole for Afghans since August, and historically those applications take considerable time to process. Furthermore, the embassy at Kabul is closed, so anyone seeking entry to the United States would first need to safely travel to a third country.
Once the children are brought to the United States and are determined to be “unaccompanied,” they are placed in shelters or foster homes overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Over 1,000 of the children brought to the U.S. since August have been released from HHS shelters, and in most cases they were placed with relatives. 266 were in HHS shelters or foster homes as of last Monday. There have been considerable challenges for those placed in shelters and foster homes due to language barriers and the trauma that children have endured during the evacuation process.