As COVID-19 reached the USA during the Trump Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) directed the Border Patrol to deny entry of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. CDC claimed to be acting under the authority of Title 42 of the 1944 Public Health Service Act, which authorizes the Public Health Service to suspend the “introduction of persons or goods” into the United States on public health grounds.
When Title 42 was first passed, it was not unusual for restaurants in the Southwest to post signs declaring “No Dogs or Mexicans Allowed.” Such signs became the basis for a 1946 desegregation lawsuit in Southern California, Mendez v. Westminster. Legal segregation may have ended in the USA since that time, but discriminatory policies continue.
Under the Biden Administration the CDC has extended its use of Title 42 to prevent refugees from the war in Ukraine from entering the USA with their dogs. (US laws generally regard animals as “property.”) President Biden has announced his intention to discontinue the use of Title 42 by the end of May, but there is a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to continue Title 42 in order to restrict immigration.
The Biden Administration just announced a new Uniting with Ukraine program but warns: “Ukrainians should not travel to Mexico to pursue entry into the United States. Following the launch of Uniting for Ukraine, Ukrainians who present at land U.S. ports of entry without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the United States through Uniting for Ukraine will be denied entry.” There is no word regarding Ukrainians seeking to enter the USA directly with their dogs or cats.
As Russia continues its war on Ukraine, there will be more refugees. If the Biden Administration is serious about establishing a “rules-based” order, a good start would be to recognize international conventions regarding refugees and asylum seekers.