With the repeal of the federal public health emergency order on May 11, residents will see a drop in COVID-19 tracking and testing, among other changes, while some non-residents face a more unsure future. Title 42, a provision that has been used to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States during public health emergencies, was also allowed to expire on Thursday.
While the expiration of the order is expected to lead to backups at the Mexican border, it may also lead to an influx in migrants in the Charlotte area, home to the only federal immigration court in the Carolinas.
The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (CCLA) is preparing to assist Charlotte-area migrants who may be affected by the ending of Title 42, “adapting to the changing legal environment in order to address the increasing needs of the migrants coming to the area,” according to a release put out by the organization on Thursday.
“With the ending of Title 42 today, the Advocacy Center recognizes the need for urgent support to migrants who may have been impacted by this provision,” said Sharon Dove, director of the CCLA’s Immigrant Justice Program. “We are committed to the protection and support of our community and to defending all immigrants — both the newly arrived and those who have been here longer — in removal proceedings.”
CCLA is offering free legal consultations at its Pro Bono Room in east Charlotte, a small room located next to the waiting room at Charlotte Immigration Court, 5701 Executive Center Drive. The consultation aims to empower someone caught up in the deportation process to make an informed choice about whether to spend money on legal fees, which can be extraordinarily expensive, or learn how to represent themselves “pro se” if that’s what they choose to do.
CCLA holds Pro Bono Room consultations from 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented Title 42 in March 2020 as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19. The law allowed border officials to immediately expel millions of migrants at the border who otherwise would have been entitled to go through the asylum process.
The ending of Title 42 comes at a time when the United States is facing a surge of migrants at the southern border. To stem the flow, the Biden administration has enacted a “transit ban” that took effect upon the repeal of the public health emergency, denying asylum to migrants who do not first attempt to seek asylum in countries through which they transit on their way to the United States.
“For us the transit ban policy makes no sense given the political and economic disarray and rampant gang violence in the countries that immigrants pass through on their way from Latin America to the U.S.,” stated Dove in Thursday’s release. “Those countries have difficulty protecting their own nationals, let alone newcomers. The transit ban is a thinly veiled attempt to drastically reduce the number of individuals eligible for asylum by limiting asylum to Mexicans and Canadians.”
Thursday’s release emphasized that most of the people showing up at the border are fleeing violence, poverty and persecution in their home countries and are seeking a better life in the United States.
“We believe that every person has the right to a safe and dignified life, regardless of where they come from,” said Dove.
Anyone in need of free assistance can reach CCLA representatives at the following numbers: Client Helpline, 704-376-1600; outside Mecklenburg County, 800-438-1254; Línea de Ayuda en Español: 800-247-1931.
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