It was no April Fools’ Day prank when the Biden administration announced an end to Title 42, a regulation which allowed officials to refuse immigrants at the border for health reasons. The policy was put into place by the Trump administration in 2020 and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat the COVID pandemic. Now that the CDC has re-evaluated and said the policy is no longer needed because of prevention methods and the high number of Americans vaccinated, the White House will end Title 42 on May 23. The decision has not been met with many favorable reactions, with Governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott among those saying they will take action against the move.
President Biden’s announcement will lead to a mass migration into Texas, Governor Greg Abbott fears. During a press conference Wednesday, April 6, Abbott warned the Lone Star State would respond with boat blockades, razor wire at low-water crossings, enhanced vehicle inspections along the border, and, of course, buses on standby to take processed and released migrants to Washington, DC to alleviate stress on the system in Texas. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a similar idea. He announced Wednesday that any illegal immigrants dumped in the Sunshine State will be bused to sanctuary states – beginning with the president’s home of Delaware.
Additionally, three states on April 4 filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt declared that he, as well as his counterparts in Arizona and Louisiana, are asking a court to keep the regulation in place until the administration conducts an appropriate policy review “amid one of the worst border crises in this country’s history.” He added, “Title 42 is a crucial tool for controlling the influx of illegal aliens at our Southern border.”
At a time when border patrol agents are struggling to keep up with the mass influx of migrants, President Joe Biden decided to end the Title 42 policy, apparently without even informing those on the front line of the crisis. “We have received no guidance at all,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told the New York Post. “Not only that, but they didn’t even bother telling us, so we had to learn about it from the news, just like everybody else.”
Border Patrol agent Jon Anfinsen responded to the Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42:
“We don’t have enough information on what those plans are … assuming they exist. We don’t even know what to tell [agents] what to expect. We’re already in a position where things are as bad as they have ever been. To think they’re going to get worse, it’s hard to quantify that.”
As Liberty Nation reported, in February of this year, there were 164,973 illegal immigrant encounters at the border. In comparison, the same month of 2021 had 101,099. And in February 2020, there were only 36,687 encounters. Although the numbers are not officially out for March 2022, it is estimated there have been more than 200,000 encounters, compared to 173,277 in March last year, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Despite the already high numbers of immigrants arriving at the border, the White House appears unconcerned about the sudden increase that is predicted to result from revoking Title 42. Press Secretary (for now) Jen Psaki said that “Title 42 is a public health directive,” and that the administration is “continuing to work with other countries in the Western Hemisphere to manage migration and address root causes” of illegal migrant border crossings.
An Unpopular Ending
Immigrant advocates criticize the seven-week time delay to end the policy, saying that, as the United States is not using Title 42 against Ukrainian refugees, it is no longer necessary, and that it is a violation of the nation’s moral responsibility to immigrants trying to escape violence and possible political persecution.
However, even some Democrats believe the move could be a dangerous one. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) called it a “frightening decision” since the United States is “nowhere near prepared” for the surge of migrants expected.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus weighed in on the matter as well. He wrote in a statement:
“As a result of the CDC’s termination of its Title 42 public health order, we will likely face an increase in encounters above the current high levels.
“There are a significant number of individuals who were unable to access the asylum system for the past two years, and who may decide that now is the time to come.”
Republicans on the Committee of Oversight and Reform wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, saying:
“The administration has decided to prioritize rescinding this order over rescinding mask and vaccine mandates for the American people.
“The decision to rescind CDC’s Title 42 order is basically gifting a pandemic relief package for Transnational Criminal Organizations that control the human smuggling routes and crossings. Cartels have already profited from the lawlessness bringing contraband, including highly lethal fentanyl, and criminal aliens into the U.S. This will continue, but at an accelerated rate.”
Republicans are seeking ways to thwart the administration’s decision. On April 4, a $10 billion coronavirus deal was announced. But, to pass the aid package before the upcoming two-week break, Democrats will need the help from GOP senators. Senator John Thune (R-SD) said if Dems want to get the bill passed, they’re going to have to negotiate with the Republicans. “It seems like there’s kind of a critical mass behind the idea,” he explained. “How the Democrats want to handle that issue may have some bearing on how and when the COVID bill proceeds.”
Although the Senate parliamentarian would have to approve, the GOP expects it will be able to get an amendment to the COVID bill that would relate to Title 42, since it would require only a simple majority vote. Because the Senate is split 50-50, only one Democrat needs to vote in the Republicans’ favor to get an amendment added to the bill.