Opinion: Get it from a medical professional. Title 42 has never been about protecting public health.

hill is a respected professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and director of the residency in general preventive medicine at UC San Diego-San Diego State University. She lives in San Diego.

As of March 2020, the U.S. federal government has allowed border guards to return anyone seeking asylum in the United States using Title 42, an emergency public health order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Title 42 brutally and forcibly expels asylum seekers to dangerous conditions without treating them under standard immigration laws. Officially called public health policy, this dubious decree was invoked by the Trump administration and perpetuated by the Biden administration to seemingly mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Every day, Title 42 prevents thousands of colored migrants – whose countries of origin are predominantly South and Central American – from seeking their human right to asylum, while those from predominantly white countries are allowed. In practice, Title 42 is not a public health policy, but a racist anti-immigration scheme.

Under the auspices of the San Diego Rapid Response Network, UC San Diego Health has been participating in the holiday shelter in our region since December 2018, sorting and providing medical care to all asylum seekers released under the care of the Homeland Security Department. . Our rigorous health reviews and comprehensive public health protocols work to minimize the spread of every type of communicable disease, including COVID-19, for which we immediately developed protocols for – and continue to implement – to protect public health. and providing medical care to new arrivals may be necessary.

Prior to the pandemic, arriving migrants were tested for a variety of diseases, from chickenpox to scabies and lice. In the days before Covid-19, these were our biggest concerns. Today the stakes are much higher, but the good news is that we have a stable system in which screening for infectious diseases has been expanded to include COVID-19, and with ongoing treatment for emergencies such as chickenpox, influenza and more. From the very beginning, we treat everyone equally and with dignity and compassionate care.

Since the pandemic began two years ago, more than 80,000 asylum seekers released under our care have been tested for COVID-19. If the test was positive, they were quarantined in hotel rooms, in accordance with public health guidelines, until a negative test result was confirmed. The staff also received COVID-19 vaccinations, if they wished, before leaving for their cities of destination to continue their immigration procedures. These policies were introduced before the adoption of Title 42, and we will continue to work in this way, because this is the right thing to do.

Although effective strategies to prevent and mitigate the effects of COVID-19, including continuous disguise in high-risk situations, vaccines and antivirals, have been identified and implemented, policies such as Title 42 remain in place – a clear mismatch between evidence-based and effective public health protocols. and immigration practices. Chapter 42 is never about public health, but is intended as a deterrent to certain sections of the population, allowing the US government to choose who can cross based solely on their country of origin.

The only thing Title 42 has done in more than two years of its implementation is to restrict the access of vulnerable and underserved populations to safe haven. In fact, the CDC recently called for the end of Title 42, saying that “current public health conditions and increased availability of tools to combat COVID-19” made the policy unnecessary.

San Diego’s emergency shelter services – and the demanding health protocols – are the result of extraordinary joint efforts unprecedented in size and scale and are now seen as a response model for border towns across the country. The aim of this public-private partnership, in which dozens of agencies at all levels of government, together with non-profit organizations, work together: safely welcoming and providing shelter for vulnerable migrants arriving in our community, focusing on public health.

As we look to the future, we call on more of our community leaders to help grow our support network and ensure that all asylum-seekers who arrive receive the compassionate help they deserve.

The US government must immediately repeal Title 42 and focus on repairing our country’s broken asylum and immigration systems. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure that public health is protected, as this will remain our top priority in the San Diego Migrant Shelter Services.

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