CDC Ends Trump-Era Pandemic Asylum Restrictions At Border As White House Says ‘Influx’ Of Migrants Expected


The Biden administration on Friday repealed a public health order imposed by former President Donald Trump allowing Border Patrol to limit the number of asylum seekers due to health risks — and the White House says it is preparing for a surge in migrants as a result of the policy change.

Key Facts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was terminating Title 42, an order the agency issued at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which allows Customs and Border Protection to turn away migrants at the border who might pose a health risk without allowing them to apply for asylum.

The termination will go into effect on May 23 to allow the Department of Homeland Security time to “implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols,” including scaling up a program to vaccinate migrants and prepare for “resumption of regular migration,” the CDC said.

The policy change is likely to result in an “influx” of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said before the change was announced Wednesday, adding that the White House was “doing a lot of work to plan for that contingency.”

The CDC said it determined the policy was “no longer necessary” after “considering current public health conditions” and “an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19.”

Key Background

Some Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates had pressed the Biden administration to roll back the Trump-era rule limiting the number of asylum seekers. While President Joe Biden has reversed a host of Trump’s immigration policies, he left the CDC directive in place. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) urged CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a letter this week not to rescind the directive, arguing that the rise of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant means now is “not the time to throw caution to the wind.” BA.2 this week became the dominant COVID-19 strain worldwide, but some experts have said a major surge is unlikely. DHS said this week 7,100 migrants were coming to the U.S. border daily, up from 5,900 per day in February, according to Time. Republican lawmakers have targeted border security as a key issue ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

Big Number

1.7 million. That’s the number of migrants U.S. immigrations officials have expelled citing CDC directives the past two years while Title 42 was in place, according to CBS News– and 70% of those expulsions were carried out during the Biden administration, the outlet said.


The American Civil Liberties Union, Oxfam America and other civil rights organizations in 2020 filed a lawsuit against Title 42, arguing the government was misusing public health authorities to unfairly expel migrants. After unsuccessful negotiations with the Biden administration, the organizations went back to court in July 2021 to seek a termination of the policy. A federal appeals court last month ruled that the administration could continue to turn away migrant families but only to countries where they wouldn’t face persecution or torture, according to Axios.

Further Reading

COVID-19 asylum limits at US-Mexico border to end May 23 (AP)

Biden Administration to End Trump-Era Pandemic Immigration Restriction (Bloomberg)

Democrats Urge Biden To End Trump Policy Of Rapidly Expelling Migrants On Southern Border (Forbes)