Pima County prepares for surge of asylees after judge overturns Title 42

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 7:38 PM MST

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A U.S. District Court judge in Washington has declared an end to Title 42, a Trump era policy which kept asylum seekers and migrants out of the country to protect against the spread of COVID-19. But now that COVID is no longer considered a health emergency, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, has ruled the policy is “arbitrary and capricious”.

Although he ruled the policy should be lifted immediately, he granted a Biden Administration request to extend it to Dec. 21 to give it time to prepare.

Immigration supporters and activists hailed the decision.

“Title 42 has really trampled on the rights of asylum seekers who ask for asylum in our country,” said Vanessa Cardenas, the Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Immigration is part of who we are.”

About 450 of those asylum seekers are passing through Tucson every day on their way to other destinations. That’s about as high as it’s ever been in Tucson and according to Catholic Community Services, with the end of Title 42 it’s expected to increase.

Teresa Cavandish, who has been operating Casa Alitas, which processes the asylees and migrants, told us today, “we are doing everything possible to prepare but these will be unprecedented times.”

Cardenas says as the richest most powerful nation.

“This is not an impossible task for us, we just need to again focus on what is consistent with our values and laws,” she said.

Judge Sullivan, in a 49-page decision, ruled the present health conditions do not warrant a continuation of the policy.

“I think the better approach is again to find a better way to manage this issue and I hope this moment gives an opportunity for the Biden administration to reset on this,” Cardenas said.

There were two and a half million people turned away from the border last year, the most on record. More than a million of them were turned away under Title 42.

But the decision could make border control that much easier, keeping asylees out of the desert, and now allowing them to use the ports of entry to make application.

“For all practical purposes it’s been opened, the traffic is coming and going, people are coming and going, tourists,” said Ann Ochoa O’Leary, the Department Head of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. “Things have opened up so it hard to understand why they would continue with Title 42.”