Remember: If your parents or other caregivers travelled with you to the border and were expelled back to Mexico, they may have been returned because of Title 42. If you later crossed the border alone as an unaccompanied child, it is important for you to talk to an attorney and share these details with them, so they can assess your case.
5/11/23: Title 42 officially ends today at 11:59 p.m. ET! The end of Title 42 does NOT mean that the U.S.-Mexico border is open or that it will be easier to get asylum or another form of legal relief. Learn more about the end of Title 42 here.
12/21/2022: The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided that Title 42 will remain in place for now.
11/16/2022: A federal judge in the U.S. gave the Biden administration 5 weeks to end Title 42 — for now, it is set to end on December 21, 2022. However, this decision can change.
3/14/2022: The Biden administration recently decided that unaccompanied children are exempt from Title 42.
We will update this page as more information is available.
What is Title 42?
- Title 42 is a Trump-era policy that began in March 2020.
- It is part of US health law which allows any migrant caught entering the US without inspection (this means entering without permission through the desert, across a river, or any other area that is not a port of entry) to be expelled.
- Under Title 42, most migrants are immediately turned away and are not given the opportunity to ask for asylum. President Biden has kept this policy in place and continues to return immigrant families who are often seeking asylum to Mexico or to their home countries.
- Public health officials have pushed back on this policy and have argued that there is no public health benefit to Title 42.
How does this affect unaccompanied children?
Adult caregivers, often single mothers, fathers, or other relatives who made the difficult journey north with children now find themselves immediately expelled to Mexico and have to make a heartbreaking choice. They can either try to stay in Mexico and wait months for Title 42 to be lifted, so they can try to ask for asylum, or they can send their children across the border as unaccompanied children. Parents sometimes feel this is their only viable option, as they assess the daily dangers they face at the border. As a result of Title 42, family separation continues in a different form and is mostly outside of public view. In March 2021, there were an estimated 19,000 unaccompanied children traveling alone across the border—this is the highest number ever recorded. According to data, many of these children had previously tried to enter with a parent but had been expelled.
The children who cross are often picked up by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), processed, and then moved into Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters. Many are able to eventually reunite with parents or other relatives in the US. Upon release to their sponsors, unaccompanied children are provided with documents related to their case, and can try to seek asylum, special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS, a special protection for minors who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected), or other form of relief.