News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. May 24, 2023: The intersection of immigration policy, human rights, and public health has become a focal point in the United States handling of undocumented immigration, particularly within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. A prime example of this is Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 265, a public health law that has stirred controversy and concern. For immigrants and advocates alike, Title 42 raises critical questions about its impact on undocumented immigrants in California.
Understanding Title 42
Title 42, initially invoked in March 2020, is a previously obscure public health law that has been utilized to effectively close the border to asylum seekers and other migrants. It is a provision of the United States Code which grants the Surgeon General, with approval from the President, the authority to prohibit the introduction of individuals into the country who might pose a serious danger to the public health of the nation.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration invoked Title 42, citing public health concerns. The law was used to swiftly expel migrants, including asylum seekers, who crossed the border without authorization, without the typical due process ordinarily afforded to them under U.S. immigration laws. Despite a shift in administration, the Biden administration continued the use of Title 42, drawing criticism from human rights organizations and immigration advocates.
Implications for Undocumented Immigration in California
California, as one of the border states with a significant immigrant population, has been profoundly affected by the invocation of Title 42. The primary implications center around the curtailment of asylum rights, potential increase in dangerous border crossings, and impacts on family separation and reunification.
Curtailment of Asylum Rights
Title 42 allows for the quick expulsion of asylum seekers without the standard screening process for credible fear or exposure to persecution in their home countries. Asylum seekers who are legally in the US may be allowed to apply for an Adjustment of Status to become a lawful permanent resident. Many individuals fleeing violence and persecution have been denied the opportunity to seek safety in the U.S. This has strained existing immigration systems in California, where a large number of asylum seekers typically end up.
Increase in Dangerous Border Crossings
Another unintended effect of Title 42 is that it may lead to more dangerous attempts to cross the border. As regular avenues of migration are shut down, desperate individuals and families may resort to riskier routes to enter the U.S. This has the potential to escalate humanitarian crises at the border.
Family Separation and Reunification
Title 42 has contributed to the separation of families at the border, as many adults are swiftly expelled while unaccompanied children are allowed to stay. The task of reunification becomes difficult when parents or family members have been sent back to their home countries or to Mexico under this policy.
The Road Ahead
The use of Title 42 has been a contentious issue, and its future remains uncertain. Advocacy groups argue that the policy doesn’t just violate domestic asylum laws but also international refugee rights agreements. Meanwhile, government officials maintain that the use of Title 42 is a necessary measure to protect public health amidst the ongoing pandemic.
The implications of Title 42 for undocumented immigrants in California are significant and wide-ranging. It brings into sharp focus the need to balance public health, immigration policy, and human rights. As we move forward, it’s crucial to engage in constructive dialogue and informed policy-making that can address these intersecting issues in a humane and effective manner.
Remembering My Friend Harry Belafonte
By Dr. Monty Alexander
NEWS AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. May 23, 2023: On April 25, 2023, the world bid farewell to Harry Belafonte, a true icon of music, cinema, and activism. I not only mourn the loss of an extraordinary individual, but also a dear friend.
Growing up in Jamaica, my home, Harry played a significant role in my life. In 1956, his album “Jump Up Calypso” emerged, validating the heritage music of Jamaica. The delightful songs sung by Harry, such as “Banana Boat” and “Island in the Sun,” brought smiles to everyone’s faces.
Long before the rise of Bob Marley and the popularization of reggae, Harry was already putting Jamaica on the map with Calypso, or as we called it then, mento. He brought Caribbean rhythms and influences to the forefront of popular music, paving the way for generations of artists who followed in his footsteps.
Harry possessed both striking looks and a compelling voice. When he appeared in movies, his talent as an actor shone brilliantly. I recall watching him in the 1959 film “The World, The Flesh and The Devil,” and I distinctly remember my mother having a crush on him. In fact, Harry Belafonte was adored by many ladies of that era.
As I began my own journey in music, Harry became one of my influential figures. His attitude, grace, integrity, and warmth left a lasting impact on me. Our friendship flourished when I moved to the United States, as we shared a common Jamaican heritage. Despite being an American born in Harlem, his parents hailed from Jamaica, and he even attended high school there for a few years.
Harry always treated me with great kindness. Whenever he saw me, he would joyfully exclaim, “cousin!” Our bond grew stronger over time.
I also cherish the memory of Harry’s contributions to the civil rights movement in America. He leveraged his celebrity status and rallied his Hollywood friends, including Paul Newman, Tony Bennett, and his dear companion from The Bahamas, Sidney Poitier, to join Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in raising awareness for the cause before marching in Selma.
Harry’s activism extended beyond the borders of the United States. He utilized his fame and influence to shed light on human rights abuses in South Africa and other parts of the world. He embraced his platform as a performer to champion the issues closest to his heart, inspiring countless others to do the same. Harry Belafonte was not only an extraordinary entertainer but also an unwavering advocate for social justice and civil rights.
In recent years, I had the privilege of spending time with him on several occasions. Our last meeting occurred on December 16th, 2021, when Harry received the distinguished title of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor from the President of the Republic of France. I was honored to be among the select few non-family members present at the private ceremony held in his New York City home. Though time had passed, and Harry seemed quieter than usual, we shared a wonderful moment, exchanging smiles and embraces. During that special event, Mrs. Belafonte, Pamela Frank, took this lovely picture that I share with great honor and pride.
Losing him fills me with deep sadness. Harry, I will miss you and the tremendous difference you made as an activist for people of color and the less fortunate.
Harry’s legacy serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of music. His music brought joy and inspiration to millions around the world, while his activism fostered real and lasting change.
As we remember Harry, let us draw inspiration from his example and continue to utilize music and art as vehicles for promoting social justice and equality for all.
In closing, I would like to share a quote from Harry Belafonte that has always resonated with me: “The artist is the radical voice of society.” Let us all strive to be that radical voice, and to use our talents and platforms to make the world a better place.
Au Revoir Harry. God Bless, and Happy Journey Home.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Monty Alexander, C.D, is a Grammy-nominated, award-winning Jamaican-born, world renown musician who was recently awarded the Order of Jamaica (OJ) for sterling contribution to the promotion of Jamaican music and the Jazz genre interpretations globally. Hear his version of Harry Belafonte’s ‘Island In The Sun’ at youtube.com/watch?v=XSf96gDBMco