As End of “Title 42” Nears: Biden Administration Gears Up Repressive Anti-Immigrant Machinery

Arizona, immigrants seek asylum.


Migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. wait to be processed after crossing the border on January 6, 2023, near Yuma, Arizona    Photo: AP

On March 6, news broke that the Biden administration is considering reinstituting a policy of detaining entire families of migrants coming into the U.S. across its border with Mexico. Family detention was one of the most despised aspects of border and migration policy under Obama. Then the fascist Trump/Pence regime took it to even deeper levels of malice—in 2019, almost 250,000 children with families were put in federal detention. Now the Biden administration is considering bringing back family detention, along with some other Trump-era measures Biden and Kamala Harris once denounced as “cruel and heartless.” And this is but one part of a massive new round of anti-immigrant repression the Biden administration has been feverishly preparing in advance of the May 11 end of a measure called Title 42.

Biden Resurrects Trump’s Asylum Policies, Develops New Ones

Both U.S. and international law recognize the right of people to apply for asylum. But the Trump regime utilized a provision of the U.S. public health code called Title 42 to prevent refugees from applying for asylum at the U.S.’s southern border, under the bogus pretext of protecting the U.S. from the spread of COVID-19. This resulted in the “expulsion” of millions of people from the U.S.—forcefully sent out of the country without even the pretense of a legal hearing. Biden continued large-scale use of Title 42. Of the more than 2.6 million people expelled by Title 42, most have been during Biden’s presidency.

Title 42’s use was always supposed to be temporary. When it seemed that it might end in late 2022, Republi-fascists howled that the U.S. under Biden would soon be “overrun with illegals,” leading to “total chaos” at the border. Led by the Christian fascist attorney general of Texas, fascists in 19 states filed an “emergency appeal” to prevent the Biden administration from ending Title 42. A fascist congressman conducted what he called an “oversight investigation.” He concluded that Biden “created a crisis at the border” and “Since day one in office, President Biden has done more to reopen the border to illegal immigrants and stimulate the human smuggling industry.” 

Arizona, immigrant asylum seekers, try to stay warm in tents.


 Arizona:, immigrant asylum seekers, try to stay warm in tents, January 6, 2023.    Photo: AP

In fact, Biden has presided over continual escalations in attacks on immigrants. For just one example: in addition to the massive amounts of border expulsions, almost as many Haitians were deported in the first year of Biden’s presidency as in the previous 20 years under three different presidents. And now, along with possibly bringing back family detention, Biden is resurrecting another Trump era policy known as a “transit ban,” which would make people unable to apply for asylum in the U.S. if they didn’t first apply in countries they passed through on their way to this country.

But the Biden administration hasn’t just extended and intensified Trump’s policies, it has been developing and preparing new means of carrying out police-state repression on a massive scale—while not being as overtly hateful as the fascist Trump. Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s head of Homeland Security (DHS), has made it very clear that the U.S. has been girding for massive deportations, expulsions, and border repression generally, “with or without Title 42.” The DHS developed a “preparedness statement” that Mayorkas called a “whole of government” approach for the end of 42. It features:

  • “Surging resources” to the border—which means more thuggish Border Patrol agents, with more and more powerful weapons.
  •  Increasing “processing efficiency”—which means deporting and expelling people more quickly.
  • “Administering consequences” for unlawful entry—which means more arrests, and more prosecution of more people.


A System with No Answers but Violent Repression

The Republi-fascists are openly racist. They insult and vilify people from what Trump called “shit-hole countries.” They falsely blame immigrants for the huge problem of drug addiction in this country, and claim the U.S. is “losing the war” at the border, even as they militarize it to an insane level, and use brutalizing pigs and modern weaponry to keep impoverished people from crossing it. They whip up their fascist mobs into frenzies of hate and threats of violence against immigrants.

The Democrats portray themselves as favoring asylum and immigration policies that are “orderly, safe, and humane,” as Biden said, even while they implement and intensify many of the same measures as the Trump fascists. Similar approaches and “answers” by these two bitterly opposed sections of the U.S. ruling class indicate how the capitalist-imperialist system they both represent has NO answer to what they call an “immigration crisis”—no answer that is actually in the interests of humanity.

A Choice to Make

On March 5, 343 people from Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Honduras were found in an abandoned trailer in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Among them were 103 unaccompanied children. All were trying to reach the U.S. They are among the countless millions of desperate human beings from all over this hemisphere, and all over the world, being forced from their homes and lives by an imperialist system that has devastated their homelands.1

Bob Avakian: Why do people come here from all over the world?

As the end of Title 42 in May nears, a massive movement towards the border of migrants like those desperate people in Veracruz may begin. Republi-fascists almost certainly will seize on this to try to create a major political crisis for the Biden administration, further enflame the vicious anti-immigrant sentiment that has tens of millions of people in the U.S. in its grip, and step up their overall fascist agenda. The federal government, under Biden’s direction (along with the state government of Texas, and possibly fascist vigilantes across the entire border), will implement a policy of massive expulsion, deportation, and detention. All this is an expression of the fact that the U.S.-Mexico border is a focal point and social faultline of an imperialism crisis, not an immigration crisis.

As Bob Avakian wrote in Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed, A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution, such a situation “can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way. And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.”

Something Terrible or Something Truly Emancipating - Square, wo "NEW"


The forces for revolution need to boldly raise the question of WHY such an insane and inhumane situation exists, what must be done about it, and what the solution is. Where this conflict will lead is yet to be determined—and what masses of people, in this country and others in South, North, and Central America will do will be a big part of determining the outcome. The words of Bob Avakian ring out compellingly:

...we have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all—ormake revolution!

BA-We have two choices...




1. See numerous entries in Revolution’s series “American Crime” on Mexico, and countries in Central and South America. [back]


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