Central Americans Lack Awareness of What the End of Title 42 Means

by | Jun 15, 2023

The recent ending of Title 42—the public health order which enabled the US government to expel migrants coming from a country where an infectious disease was present without allowing them to seek asylum—left many expecting a surge of migrants to the US border with Mexico. While that has not been the reality, a recent Premise survey of a thousand people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras reveals a lack of awareness about Title 42 and the implications of its expiration.
Most respondents are unfamiliar with US immigration policy, with 65% responding, “I have no idea what Title 42 is”. Even those stating they’re familiar with Title 42 are not well informed of the policy’s function: 21% of respondents think it allowed the US to detain migrants at the border indefinitely, and 28% think it allowed the US deport migrants to their home countries.
Legal grounds for asylum include persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Despite that, most people say that either poverty (40%) or lack of opportunity (52%) in their home country are the main drivers of migration to the US.
Even though most people migrating in search of better opportunities or incomes are not likely to have legal grounds for asylum, 70% of our respondents think the end of Title 42 will lead to an increase in the number of migrants trying to enter the US. When asked why, 62% think the shift in policy will lead people to believe they are eligible to seek asylum.
Legal asylum aside, the vast majority of respondents (82%) think the end of Title 42 will lead to an increase in the number of people who are trafficked or smuggled into the United States from Central America, and 81% think the end of Title 42 will lead to an increase in exploitation and abuse of migrants.
Sadly, 53% of respondents think exploitation and abuse will increase because people will be more desperate to migrate.
Recent analysis attributes the lack of a post-Title 42 surge at the border to more migrants using the asylum app, the reinstatement of consequences if caught crossing the border illegally, bad weather, and new asylum restrictions. However, our survey makes clear that the prevailing hope for a post-Title 42 world is that more migrants will be able to seek asylum in the US.

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