John Oliver sits at a news desk with an image of President Joe Biden embedded beside him labeled

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver‘s latest deep dive into the news involves President Joe Biden’s border policy, including what he promised on the campaign trail, the situation he inherited from former President Donald Trump, and what he has and hasn’t done since being sworn into office.

As Oliver points out, Trump left Biden with stringent, xenophobic immigration policies, such as Title 42, which “allows the US to kick migrants out of the country with shocking ease,” Oliver explains.

Title 42 is a public health order meant to curb the spread of communicable to diseases. Trump’s administration invoked Title 42 in March 2020, saying it was a safety precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, as Oliver points out, Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller had suggested the use of Title 42 long before COVID-19.

On the campaign trail, Biden promised to undo Trump’s harmful immigration policies. However, Oliver reveals how Title 42 is still in effect — and how Biden expanded it. And while Biden’s administration has offered humanitarian exemptions to migrants and asylum seekers, these exemptions make up only a fraction of those gathered at the US’s southern border.

Oliver also covers racist double standards of who is granted asylum in the US, as well as the many problems with the government app CBP One, where people can request exemptions to Title 42. The app operates on a lottery system, so available meetings fill up within minutes, leaving the vast majority of migrants in limbo. This lottery system has led to the app being dubbed “asylum Ticketmaster” — a terrifying thought, Oliver says, because of “how shitty of a company Ticketmaster is.”

“Migrants are going to keep seeking asylum in this country, as they have every legal right to do,” Oliver concludes. “And we need to make a choice, in whether we are comfortable to continue leaving so many of them in squalor and danger at the border, or whether we’re willing to finally fulfill our nation’s promise of offering them a safer, more hopeful life in a free country.”

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs Sunday nights on HBO and streams on HBO Max.


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