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Title 42 Court Ruling Condemns Asylum Seekers to Persecution and Danger: PHR

In response to news that Judge Robert Summerhays of the U.S. District Court in Lafayette, Louisiana ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot move forward a plan to rescind Title 42 border expulsions, the following quote is attributable to Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, medical director at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and professor of public health and internal medicine at University of Michigan:

“Today’s ruling blocking the lift of the Title 42 expulsion order effectively condemns thousands of people seeking asylum to persecution, danger, and inhumane conditions. At the same time, this ruling does absolutely nothing to protect public health in the United States.

As we have pointed out since March 2020, Title 42 expulsions were never about safeguarding public health during the pandemic. Instead, it is a draconian immigration control measure that shreds U.S. legal obligations, under domestic and international law, to respect the right to seek asylum.

An unelected judge deciding on the application of public health policy under Title 42 also undermines the lawful authority of the CDC and the Biden administration at a time when we need science-based, rights-respecting policies more than ever. We condemn this ruling, which was announced in a Louisiana courtroom some 500 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, a result of ‘court shopping’ by anti-immigrant activists. We call on the CDC and Congress to end Title 42 expulsions for good and advance a safe, humane, and rights-respecting asylum system.”

PHR resources on Title 42:

  • Report: “Neither Safety nor Health: How Title 42 Expulsions Harm Health and Violate Rights,” PHR, July 2021
  • Nature commentary: Public health law must never again be misused to expel asylum seekers: Title 42, April 2022
  • New England Journal of Medicine perspective: Misusing Public Health as a Pretext to End Asylum — Title 42, April 2022
  • Press release: “Medical and Public Health Experts Call on Biden Administration to Not Delay Planned Repeal of ‘Devastating’ Title 42 Border Expulsions, April 2022
  • Press release: “PHR Welcomes CDC’s Plans to Rescind “Scientifically Baseless and Politically Motivated” Title 42 Border Expulsions,” April 1, 2022
  • Press release: “After Two Years of Health and Rights Abuses, it’s Past Time to End Title 42 Border Expulsions: PHR,” March 17, 2022 
  • Press release: “PHR Condemns Biden Administration’s ‘Indefensible’ Extension of Title 42 Border Expulsion Order,” August 3, 2021
  • Open Letter: “Coalition Letter to the Biden Administration on Title 42 Border Expulsions,” June 20, 2021
  • Fact Sheet: Title 42 Border Expulsions: How Biden and the CDC’s Misuse of Public Health Authority Expels Asylum Seekers to Danger,” May 20, 2021

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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