Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Immigration activists call for end of Trump-era asylum order still in effect

Monday marks the two-year anniversary of Title 42 — a controversial Trump-era policy that blocks asylum at the border. Activists in San Diego and Tijuana are calling for it to be revoked. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis has more.

Activists on both sides of the border commemorated the second anniversary of Title 42 Monday with demonstrations demanding the end of the controversial Trump-era policy.

Title 42 was first implemented in March 2020 and allows border officials to use the pandemic as a justification for turning away asylum seekers at the southern border without a hearing before an immigration judge.

To date, asylum seekers have been turned back more than 1.2 million times via Title 42, according to data from Customs and Border Protection (CPB).

Lindsay Toczylowski.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Lindsay Toczylowski from the Immigrant Defenders Law Center rallied to end the Trump era immigration policy called Title 42 at the San Diego/Tijuana border crossing in San Diego, March 21, 2022.

“Today, the U.S. government continues to unlawfully expel individuals and families with absolutely no-due process,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, the executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center.

In Tijuana, members of the Border Line Crisis Center and Haitian Bridge Alliance said families from Haiti and Central America have spent the last two years waiting for a chance to request asylum in the United States.

Monday morning, CPB agents blocked the entry of a Honduran mother with an epileptic son and a transgender woman from Mexico who sought asylum at the San Ysidro border crossing.
Meanwhile, three Ukrainian war refugees were allowed to enter the country. Border officials recently began exempting Ukrainian nationals from Title 42.

Welcome With Dignity, an organization trying to reform the asylum system, said the decision to allow Ukrainians entry but continue to block everyone else is racist.

Matthew Bowler
A mother and her two sons attempted to be allowed to request asylum but were turned away at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Tijuana March 21, 2022.

“In practice, what this policy looks like is white asylum seekers being granted access to a system that has been shut down for many thousands of black and brown asylum seekers,” the organization said in a statement. “Ukrainians do not deserve to endure the violence of Title 42. But no one else does either.”

Activists used the two-year anniversary of Title 42 as an opportunity to criticize President Joe Biden for not rescinding the Trump-era policy despite promising a more humane immigration policy during his campaign.

“All of us remember that part of the campaign promise of the Biden-Harris administration was to restore asylum; to bring back humanity and dignity to our immigration system,” said Lilian Serrano of the Southern Border Communities Coalition.

Matthew Bowler
A mother and her two sons attempted to be allowed to request asylum but were turned away at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Tijuana March 21, 2022.

More than 9,000 migrants who were turned away from the border via Title 42 were later victims of violent crime in Mexico, according to Human Rights First. Those crimes include assault, kidnapping, and rape.