AirTalk with Larry Mantle interviewed Anil Kalhan, a professor of law at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, for a Jan. 11 radio segment about the Biden administration’s expansion of Title 42 immigration restrictions.
President Joe Biden announced in early January that the U.S. would immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who cross the border from Mexico illegally. The administration is doing so through Title 42, a federal law that allows authorities to deny the entry of people and products to limit the spread of a communicable disease. Title 42 also has been in place for Venezuelans attempting to enter the U.S. since October. The move represents a major change to immigration rules.
Kalhan discussed the complex background and implications of Title 42, as well as the Supreme Court’s recent consideration of the law.
“I think it’s useful to go back to 2020 when the Trump administration instituted this measure,” he said. “It wasn’t really the CDC that initiated its use. It was the immigration officials who saw an opportunity to seize this as a way to implement restrictions on asylum that they had already been trying to do long before COVID.”
Biden kept the measure in place, Kalhan said, because he saw it as a “practical way to deal with the border crisis.” He added: “The irony of Title 42 is that no one really sees this as a public health measure.”
Biden’s announcement both creates legal pathways for immigrants to enter the country while reducing the number of people crossing at the border, he noted.
“There’s no question, dealing with the border is a very challenging, challenging policy problem,” Kalhan said. “But I think the unfortunate piece of this…is that it really does reinforce some significant portions of how the Trump administration restricted access to asylum for people, which is a legal right under U.S. law and international law.”
Kalhan is a visiting professor of law at Yale Law School. He also is a visiting fellow at the Yale Law School Information Society Project and a Professor (by courtesy) at Drexel’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society. His research and teaching interests include immigration law, U.S. and comparative constitutional law, privacy and surveillance, and international human rights law.