Important Changes to the Title 42 Exemption Process
Contributor: Van T. Doan
“Title 42” has been in the news lately, but what is it, and how does it affect immigrants, especially those seeking asylum? What is an exemption, and how can someone trying to enter the U.S. get one?
First things first: Title 42 in this context refers to Title 42 of the U.S. Code, specifically Section 265 of that title. Section 265 authorizes the Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to “prohibit…the introduction” of individuals into the United States when the Director of the CDC believes there is “serious danger of the introduction of a (communicable) disease into the United States.” Title 42 is not applied to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), or individuals with valid travel documents—but it does affect asylum-seekers. This regulation of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can be implemented by customs agents, including Border Patrol agents.
On March 20, 2020, HHS implemented Title 42, Section 265 (commonly referred to simply as “Title 42”) to prevent the inflow of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) into the United States. Title 42 has allowed agents along the southern border of the U.S. to expel over two million migrants on public health grounds.
Both the Biden and Trump administrations have argued that Title 42 supersedes U.S. law regarding asylum. As a consequence, migrants processed under Title 42 have been unable to seek protection in this country, regardless of dangers they may have been fleeing in the country they left behind.
What is a Title 42 Exemption and Why Were Changes Needed?
For particularly vulnerable migrants, there is an opportunity to seek asylum despite Title 42. They can seek an exemption, which allows them to appear at a port of entry at a specified date and time to request asylum, which may be granted on a case-by-case basis. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was working with nonprofits at the border to identify individuals who might be eligible for the limited exemptions to Title 42. Exemptions allowed 180 people per day to enter the United States with the permission of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Seeking asylum is supposed to be free; the right to asylum is considered a basic human right under the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The people in charge of the nonprofits controlled who had access to the limited slots for exemptions, and some of them were charging up to $2000 per individual. Exemptions were going not to the individuals who needed them most, but those with the means to pay. In order to prevent this corruption, changes have been made to the system.
What’s New With Title 42 Exemptions
The United States has implemented a new system, called CBP One, for requesting a Title 42 exemption. The new system means that individuals seeking asylum in the United States will not need to use any nonprofit agency or intermediary to request an exemption. CBP One can be downloaded from the Apple App or Google Play stores at no cost, and there is no fee to use the application. CBP One gives users access to a variety of CBP services. It is designed to be user-friendly and, through a variety of guided questions, directs the user to the appropriate service, including request of a Title 42 exemption.
Perhaps most importantly, the new system democratizes requests for a Title 42 exemption. Noncitizens can directly schedule presentation at ports of entry without the need for an attorney or agency. Those in greater need will no longer be pushed to the back of the line by those with more resources, and the decision of who has access to an exemption will no longer be in the hands of those who may have corrupt motives.
The new system went live as of January 12, 2023. Originally offered in only English and Spanish, other languages, including Russian and Haitian Creole, are being made available soon.
To read more about CBP One and changes to the Title 42 exemption process, consult the following documents:
- CBP One Mobile Application
- Using CBP One to Schedule an Appointment (English)
- Using CBP One to Schedule an Appointment (Spanish)
- CBP One Traveler Quick Reference Guide (English)
- CBP One Traveler Quick Reference Guide (Spanish)
If you have additional questions about Title 42, seeking a Title 42 exemption, or seeking asylum in general, please contact our law office to schedule a consultation.
Categories: Immigration Law