In March 2020, the Trump Administration invoked an obscure infectious disease provision in Title 42 of the US Code, allowing Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to turn away migrants who show up at the border without giving them the opportunity to request asylum. When a CBP agent applies the Title 42 policy on a migrant, the migrant can only request Convention Against Torture (CAT) protection, which requires a much higher standard to approve compared to asylum requests. President Biden has not yet rescinded the policy, though he has stopped it from being applied to unaccompanied minors and has ordered a review to see whether it should be rescinded.

My question is, since the Title 42 policy was put into effect in March 2020, how many migrants who have shown up at the US-Mexico border have successfully obtained CAT protection (as opposed to asylum)? Has the US government released any data on this?

  • "(CAT) protection, which requires a much higher standard to approve compared to asylum requests." From where/what source you get this impression?
    – r13
    Mar 24, 2021 at 20:08
  • @r13 Here: "But under Title 42, according to officials, only migrants who spontaneously claim fear can seek protection — Border Patrol agents told The Times they are not allowed to ask — and only under the Convention Against Torture — a much higher standard of proof, with stricter criteria than asylum." latimes.com/politics/story/2021-03-19/… Mar 24, 2021 at 20:32
  • Unless I understood incorrectly, the linked article (second paragraph) says the other way around, or this article is incorrect. Note it did not mention Title 42, so we might not be on the same page. immigrationequality.org/asylum/asylum-manual/…
    – r13
    Mar 24, 2021 at 22:50
  • @r13 What are you talking about, the linked article says “The standard of proof under the CAT is higher than the standard for asylum.” The same as what I said. Mar 24, 2021 at 22:53
  • It does not sound more difficult, I could be wrong. "The advantage of CAT is that there are no bars to eligibility. Therefore, since the treaty itself does not contain any bars to its mandate of non-return, aggravated felons can make claims for relief if they fear torture. Additionally, applicants are not required to establish that their fear of torture is on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group."
    – r13
    Mar 24, 2021 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


According to a LA Times article, which you appear to have read, it says that in a year of Title 42, of more than 650,000 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, fewer than 1% have been able to seek protection.

I am not aware of any government sources that provide numbers of those who have received CAT protection; however, in an explanation sourced from www.ilrc.org it seems that being able to prove that one has justifiable fear of torture is difficult at best, subsequently the low percentage of those who have obtained such is unambiguous.

Applicants for CAT relief must prove that the torture they are likely to suffer will be “inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. If an official governmental policy or a pattern of practice shows that the torturer is acting in his official capacity, that would be a clear case of an official act.27 But sometimes, a low-level government employee may engage in torture without government authorization. Or private individuals, such as members of a criminal gang, may be the torturers. In these situations, how can an applicant prove that the tortuous act was committed in an “official capacity” or with government acquiescence“”


  • So yeah the number of people who have been able to apply is less than 6,500. I wonder what percentage of that less than 6,500 number is actually approved. Mar 30, 2021 at 2:58
  • Perhaps I am interpreting this statement wrong but it says “of more than 650,000 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, fewer than 1% have been able to seek protection.” I would take that to mean that of 650,000 migrant encounters at that border less than 1% of however many applicants obtained protection.
    – Rebecca
    Mar 30, 2021 at 3:04

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