The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a statement clarifying that the termination of the Title 42 public health order does not affect maritime migration policies. U.S. maritime borders will remain closed to unauthorized entry, emphasizing the dangers and risks associated with irregular maritime migration.
Title 42 is a public health order derived from a 1944 law that grants the U.S. government the authority to implement measures to protect public health during times of disease outbreaks or health emergencies. Under Title 42, the government has the ability to impose restrictions on migration at the U.S. borders in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
In recent years, Title 42 has been utilized by the U.S. government as a mechanism to swiftly expel migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border, citing public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy allowed for the immediate removal of individuals, including asylum seekers, without giving them an opportunity to seek protection or present their case in immigration court.
The Coast Guard says it is important to note that Title 42 never applied to individuals intercepted at sea.
A Homeland Security task force, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard and other partners, is closely monitoring the situation to prevent the spread of misinformation among diaspora communities and to discourage increased attempts to reach the United States by sea orchestrated by human smugglers.
Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, director of the Homeland Security Task Force-Southeast (HSTF-SE) and commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, emphasized that the U.S. Coast Guard and Task Force partners will continue their efforts to rescue and repatriate migrants attempting irregular entry into the United States by sea.
“Do not take to the sea,” said Rear Adm. McPherson. “As I’ve often said, irregular maritime migration is always dangerous and very often deadly.”
Migrants intercepted at sea will be promptly repatriated according to established policies and plans governing maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea. Those who manage to reach the U.S. shores will undergo expedited removal proceedings, and individuals who do not qualify for protection will be expeditiously removed with a minimum five-year bar on reentry to the United States.
To address irregular maritime migration in the region, HSTF-SE is implementing comprehensive plans in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea, including continual monitoring of migrant flow rates, as well as geopolitical, social, economic, and security factors.
Moreover, effective April 27, 2023, migrants interdicted at sea will be indefinitely disqualified from the lawful parole processes previously available to Cubans and Haitians, as announced in January.
Regardless of nationality, migrants intercepted at sea by the Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, Coast Guard, or state law enforcement will be repatriated to their country of origin, returned to their country of departure, or resettled in a third country in adherence to policies and plans governing maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea.
The Coast Guard warning says individuals arriving irregularly by sea, including those who reach U.S. territories, will be apprehended by Border Patrol and subject to expedited removal. Suspected human smuggling incidents will be thoroughly investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, while the CBP Office of Field Operations will continue processing arrivals at airports and seaports.