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Bipartisan, Bicameral Groups of Lawmakers Push to Delay Title 42 End

April 11, 2022 by Reece Nations
Estela Lazo stands for a portrait with her two children, late Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Tijuana, Mexico. The Honduran family waits in the Mexican border city to have their case for asylum in the United States heard. As President Joe Biden undoes his predecessor's immigration policies that he considers inhumane, he faces a major question: How far should he go to right perceived wrongs? (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON — Since the Biden administration’s announcement marking the expected end of the Title 42 migrant expulsion health authority, bipartisan and bicameral lawmakers have pushed back on the policy’s revocation.

Legislation was introduced last week by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., along with a bipartisan coalition, to delay the planned end to Title 42 for at least 60 days past its initial expiration date of May 23. The proposal would compel the Biden administration to produce a comprehensive immigration plan prior to lifting the public health authority.

Another bill was filed in the House by Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, to similarly prevent the White House from lifting the expulsion authority without a plan in place from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services that addresses the anticipated surge of migrants.

“It is increasingly apparent that the administration’s decision to end Title 42 without replacing it with a comprehensive plan to secure our southern border will only put further strain on our broken immigration system,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., a House cosponsor of the Title 42 extension bill.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the threats our nation faces from a porous border and a fragmented immigration system, and that’s why we must demand accountability from the administration with respect to implementing a workable plan that will ensure the humane treatment of migrants and keep our border and neighboring communities safe and secure.”

Golden said that while Title 42 cannot remain in place permanently, Biden must act to ensure DHS and its personnel and facilities are fully prepared prior to its rescission. Title 42 was first rolled out in March 2020 by the Trump administration.

After meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week, Sinema said it was evident that current preparations for the end of Title 42 were not adequate. Southwest land border encounters by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in February rose by 6.6% from the previous month, and the agency said it expects this figure to increase once Title 42 is revoked.

“The Biden administration was wrong to set an end date for Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in place,” said Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., a cosponsor of the Senate bill to delay the public health authority’s end.  

“It’s why today we are introducing bipartisan legislation requiring this administration to implement a plan before lifting Title 42 that protects the public health and safety of our border communities and migrants. We need a secure, orderly, and humane response at our southern border and our bipartisan legislation holds the Biden administration accountable to that.”

As some lawmakers celebrated the plan to revoke Title 42, others warned long-lasting reverberations would be felt without additional border security measures in place. Mixed reactions were present on both sides of the aisle, The Well News previously reported.

Immigrant rights advocates heralded the decision to let the public health authority expire, as it circumvented typical border apprehension procedures that included credible fear interviews to assess asylum claims. Under Title 42, CBP is not obligated to conduct credible fear interviews, leading some to question the inherent goal of the order.

“It’s very clear that Title 42 is a pretext,” Kate Huddleston, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, told The Well News. “It circumvented ordinary [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] processes because the CDC did not think that the policy was in fact necessary or appropriate to deal with a pandemic.

“And it’s very clear in the implementation of Title 42 that the administration is not using it as some sort of pandemic measure, but rather as a measure to control the flow or to control applications for asylum and to keep people from seeking asylum in the United States.” 

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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