UPDATE: Migrants have been denied rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law 2.5 million times since March 2020 on grounds of preventing COVID-19 under a public-health rule that was scheduled to expire Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, until U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts ordered a temporary hold. Title 42 has been applied disproportionately to those from countries that Mexico agrees to take back: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and more recently Venezuela, in addition to Mexico. People from those countries are expected to drive an anticipated increase in asylum claims once the rule is lifted.

More than 20 states sued to block the Biden administration from ending Title 42, arguing that the Administration is unprepared for a migrant influx at the border that the government itself anticipates.

Here are some facts about Title 42:


Title 42 is a World War II-era public health order that prohibits entry into the United States if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes it could introduce communicable diseases into the country. 

CDC officials invoked Title 42 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020.

Migrants are expelled to Mexico under Title 42, which allows for the immediate expulsion due to the coronavirus pandemic, at the Paso Del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico on September 9, 2021. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

In his order, then-CDC Director Robert Redfield said, “There is a serious danger of the introduction of COVID-19 into the land (ports of entry) and Border Patrol stations at or near the United States borders with Canada and Mexico, and into the interior of the country as a whole, because COVID-19 exists in Canda, Mexico, and the other countries of origin of persons who migrate to the United States across the United States land borders with Canada and Mexico.” The order applies to anyone who travels from Canada or Mexico, regardless of country of origin. 


Title 42 was implemented under the Trump administration and has continued under the Biden administration. 

It allows U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to immediately expel migrants from the U.S. without giving them a chance to request asylum. 

In most cases, agents can remove migrants within two hours. 

Migrants sent back under Title 42 do not have an immigration enforcement removal on their record and are rarely processed and, instead, turned around and repatriated to their country of origin. 


As of the end of April, migrants have been expelled under Title 42 order more than 1.9 million times. 

Because the migrants face expulsion without a record of the removal, many attempt to cross more than once, officials say

Border Patrol agents look on as migrants on the Mexico side approach a gap in the border wall across from Yuma, Arizona on May 16, 2022. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)


UPDATED Monday, Dec. 19, 2022: The Supreme Court is temporarily blocking an order that would lift pandemic-era restrictions on asylum seekers. But it is leaving open the prospect of lifting the restrictions by Wednesday, Dec. 21. The order Monday by Chief Justice John Roberts comes as conservative states are pushing to keep limits on asylum seekers that were put in place during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. They are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort before the limits are set to expire. In the one-page order, Roberts granted a stay pending further order and asked the government to respond by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022.

An attorney arguing for the 21 states has said that the Biden administration made plans to lift Title 42 without sufficient consideration about the effects the move could have on public health and law enforcement.


If Title 42 ends, those who try to cross into the United States and do not meet the standards for asylum will be turned back under Title 8.

Title 8 is the long-standing immigration law that lays out the parameters for migrants — such as showing a credible fear of returning to their home country — to make a case for staying in the United States.

A significant difference between Title 42 and Title 8 is that under Title 42, DHS has the authority to expel migrants. 

Under Title 8 processing, migrants can claim asylum or be processed for removal if they don’t qualify. The process takes longer.

Under Title 8, those sent back will have an enforcement record on the books, and if they try to return before a certain period, they will face automatic removal.