Tuesday, 21 May 2024

What is Title 8?

With the end of Title 42, the Covid-era policy that allowed for the swift expulsion of migrants arriving in the United States, federal border agents were set to return on Friday to the prepandemic rules for enforcing immigration law, known as Title 8.

This measure covers a broad range of immigration law, including on asylum, refugees and visas. It also includes a mechanism for swiftly deporting people, known as “expedited removal.” Federal officials have said that with the end of Title 42, many arriving migrants could expect to be processed and removed from the United States in a few days.

But the policy also allows more people to request asylum, and the longer administrative process could lead to crowding at holding facilities at times when there are large numbers of arrivals.

The Biden administration has taken steps to speed up the processing, and has warned migrants not to come to the border to try to apply for asylum; instead, it has provided other avenues to seek application appointments from afar, including through a government app. The administration has also begun putting in place new rules to make asylum more difficult to obtain.

The return to the usual laws for handling border crossings carries benefits and drawbacks for migrants. Under Title 42, there was no penalty for those caught crossing illegally and deported, so many people made multiple attempts to enter the country. Under Title 8, repeated illegal border crossings carry escalating criminal penalties.

The Trump administration and many Republicans had argued that Title 8 allowed too many people to remain in the United States as they made asylum claims. Immigrant rights advocates and some Democrats have said that Title 42 denied asylum opportunities to people fleeing violence and political turmoil in their home countries.

The Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, warned last month that the impending return to Title 8 meant that there would be “stiff consequences for irregular migration,” including a five-year ban and potential criminal charges for people who were caught repeatedly trying to enter the United States. He said that those consequences would restart immediately after Title 42 was lifted.

While millions of migrants were quickly deported under Title 42 over the last three years, many were granted humanitarian or other exemptions; for them, Title 8 rules still applied.

About 60 percent of the 1.1 million migrants encountered by federal agents at the U.S. southern border from October 2022 through March 2023 were processed under Title 8, according to the latest public data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

While crossings and asylum claims were expected to increase with the end of Title 42, officials have said that they expect the number of crossings to go down because of the harsher penalties for those who try to cross illegally under Title 8.

Even before the official end of Title 42, the number of migrants processed under its provisions had begun dropping this week. Raul L. Ortiz, the chief of the Border Patrol, said that, on Tuesday, less than 20 percent of the migrants it handled were processed under Title 42.

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