The Biden Administration has reportedly loosened a Trump-era border policy to contain the spread of the Chinese coronavirus to allow “vulnerable populations” such as transgender people to enter the U.S. and seek asylum.
On Wednesday, El Paso Matters learned from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and migrant advocacy groups of the new exception to the policy (commonly referred to as Title 42).
Under Title 42, U.S. Border Patrol agents, overseen by the DHS, are allowed to immediately deport some illegal immigrants before they can legally apply for asylum, all to stem the spreading of the virus.
An unnamed DHS spokesperson told El Paso Matters that the Biden administration has decided to exempt vulnerable migrant populations from Title 42, noting:
We are working to streamline a system for identifying and lawfully processing particularly vulnerable individuals who warrant humanitarian exceptions under (Title 42). This humanitarian exception process involves close coordination with international and non-governmental organizations in Mexico and COVID-19 testing before those identified through this process are allowed to enter the country.
Although the spokesperson did not specify which migrants would qualify as “vulnerable” and benefit from the exception, El Paso Matters learned from advocacy groups that several “transgender” migrants had been allowed to enter the U.S. from Ciudad Juárez.
Héctor Ruiz, an attorney with Santa Fe Dreamers Project who specializes in helping sexual-minority migrants, reportedly revealed that the Biden folks implemented two new processes that only allow a limited number of vulnerable migrants to enter the U.S.
Referring to the new processes, El Paso Matters explained:
One is related to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging that Title 42 violates immigration statutes and constitutes an unlawful denial of the right to seek asylum. The advocacy organization has called on the Biden administration to end the use of Title 42 for rapid border expulsions.
The other process will be more formalized as a “consortium,” a collaborative process between non-governmental organizations and the U.S. government to facilitate the crossing of vulnerable groups, Ruiz said.
According to Ruiz, his organization has so far helped 15 to 18 transgender migrants enter the U.S. through the new exception process, adding that the total number could be much higher.
Susana Coreas, a transgender woman from El Salvador who first arrived at the border in February 2020, revealed that the U.S. is already providing most aid allowing the Casa de Colores shelter in Mexico de Colores shelter to house trans migrants.
El Paso Matters noted:
Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries for transgender and queer people because of heightened risks of homophobic and transphobic crime, experts say. It is the second deadliest country in the world for trans people, according to a study by advocacy group Letra S.
The Trump administration invoked Title 42 in March 2020 in what it described as an effort to stem the spread of the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
President Joe Biden kept the measure in place despite the new administration’s undoing most of his predecessor’s immigration policies, a move that Republicans say triggered the unprecedented migrant surge fueling the border crisis.
Last week, Buzzfeed noted that the Biden folks were weighing implementing a waiver of Title 42 expulsions for some migrant populations deemed vulnerable.
Amid the border crisis, authorities have not applied Title 42 to unaccompanied children and some families.
Some border communities have complained that border agents are releasing migrant children and families without testing them for the Chinese coronavirus.