US President Joe Biden’s administration is preparing for the end of a controversial public health order that has allowed authorities to turn away most asylum seekers at the United States border with Mexico.

Biden held a call with his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday – just two days before the Title 42 policy is set to expire – and the leaders pledged to bolster cooperation on the border.

First imposed by former US President Donald Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Title 42 effectively allowed US border authorities to rapidly turn away most asylum seekers arriving at the border, without offering them an opportunity to apply for protection.

The policy has drawn widespread condemnation from rights advocates who argue it forces migrants and refugees back to unsafe Mexican border cities and violates US obligations under international law.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Tuesday, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre maintained that the Biden administration was ready to handle an expected influx in border arrivals when the rule expires on Thursday.

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