Many asylum seekers have been sent back into Mexico as the U.S. government under the pretense that Title 42 was being used to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Editor’s note: This article was contributed by attorney Charles Kuck as part of Kuck Baxter Immigration’s annual advertising partnership with Global Atlanta. 

Charles Kuck

The “hot” news of the day is how the end of “Title 42,” a non-immigration law, will somehow cause a crush of asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border. The truth is, lifting Title 42 will do more good than harm for the American economy – and for Georgia companies seeking to fill open jobs.  

What is Title 42? 

Title 42 has been around for decades and has been used by every president to temporarily stop the entry into the United States of individuals who could be carrying dangerous infectious diseases. The law was weaponized by the Trump administration to purportedly prevent the spread of COVID (which was already spreading rapidly around the U.S. at the time).  

The Biden administration upheld its use to stem the flow of asylum-seeking migrants into the U.S.  

This specific use of Title 42 for asylum was struck down in a Nov. 15 ruling, but a repeal of the law has been postponed until the Supreme Court rules on whether states have a right to sue to shut down legitimate government immigration policies and regulations – a ruling that may not happen until March 2023.  

The postponement came after a coalition of 19 states issued motions to keep Title 42 in place, claiming its end would bring an influx of immigrants who would pose a financial burden for those states.  

The reality is actually the opposite. Permitting asylum seekers to enter the U.S. would help to fill vacant jobs and curb inflation.  

Impact of Title 42 NOT Ending: Job Vacancies and High Inflation 

Keeping Title 42 in place means further delays in allowing individuals to enter the U.S. and legally seek asylum under our laws. Whether immigrants come here legally or not, they have a legal right to apply for asylum under the U.S. Code.  Most of the individuals seeking entry over the last three years have done so because of escalating violence in their home countries, principally in Central and South America.  

Everyone who applies for asylum, once in the U.S., is eligible for employment authorization five months after filing their asylum case. It then takes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 3-10 months to issue a work permit, which makes them eligible to work anywhere in the United States. 

Postponing asylum applications via Title 42 creates an even greater backlog of those awaiting processing – and longer wait times for Georgia companies seeking labor.  

Even with low unemployment, Georgia employers still need workers. The state’s unemployment rate was 3 percent in November, which was lower than the national rate of 3.7 percent, and job numbers in Georgia increased by 3.9 percent over the year. 

Still, demand far exceeds supply of labor, with 1.7 unfilled jobs available for every unemployed worker in the U.S. Economists have made clear that the reduced number of legal immigrants entering the country over the last three years is not enough to provide the increasing number of employees needed for open jobs in our economy. Prolonging Title 42 doesn’t help. 

The continued use of Title 42 also means further delay for a potential solution to inflation.  

Wages in Georgia and across the U.S. have been buoyed by competition for workers, which adds to high inflation rates. Immigrants are – fortunately or unfortunately – natural curbs to inflation.  

Typically garnering lower wages than U.S. citizens, immigrant labor is valuable for many industries in Georgia, especially the services industry, as wages are one of employers’ largest costs. 

Impact of Title 42 Ending: Processing Challenges 

Title 42 ending is a whole different problem. Thousands of asylum seekers will be eligible to apply for asylum at the U.S. border, and, by law, will have the right to an immigration hearing. The question becomes one of feasibility for their processing because of the sheer volume of applicants. 

Since May, when a federal judge in Louisiana initially blocked the Biden administration from ending Title 42, the policy has been used to justify hundreds of thousands of arrests and expulsions. In October alone, there were more than 200,000 arrests along the U.S. southern border but only about 75,000 expulsions, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. 

However, Title 42 has only been used to turn back to Mexico about 30 percent of individuals entering at U.S. ports of entry or being detained by border patrol. 

Once Title 42 is lifted, thousands of potential immigrant workers will have to wait in long backlogs to have their asylum cases heard in courts and for the system to process them.  

Georgia companies seeking to hire immigrants bear part of the brunt of these delayed court cases and approvals to issue and process work visas. 

What happens next 

When Title 42 is eventually lifted, public acceptance of immigrant labor will remain an uphill battle. The perceived negative impact of thousands of asylees entering the U.S. has some states – however mistaken – up in arms. 

The coalition of 19 states that forced the emergency stay of Title 42’s repeal – Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming – does not stage a welcoming environment for immigrant workers. 

Georgia is not on that list. We hope it’s because our state recognizes the potential value in hiring some of these migrants to fill jobs – and possibly help curb inflation in the process. 

Of course, we still need true immigration reform at the national level to legally bring immigrant workers here. Any such reform would have to pass a GOP-controlled House of Representatives and would require 10 Republican senators to vote in favor.  

We still have a long road ahead to passing meaningful immigration legislation – and getting the immigrant labor we need here in Georgia. 

Learn more about Kuck Baxter Immigration’s efforts on immigration reform and our services to assist Georgia employers and immigrants with their legal needs. Contact us at