Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are warning that U.S. border authorities are not prepared for the surge in migration that will surely come if President Biden’s administration moves forward with ending Title 42.
The Biden administration plans to lift Title 42 on Wednesday, ending a border policy enacted under former President Donald Trump that allows for the deportation of the vast majority of migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans have warned for months that ending the policy would only worsen the crisis at the border. The U.S. Border Patrol had a record 230,000 encounters with migrants in October alone, breaking the previous record set in September.
“Whether it’s COVID or some other issue, when you have people coming across the globe without knowing at all what their health status is, that almost by definition is a public health risk. There’s every reason to keep that in place,” Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott argued to ABC on Sunday, adding that there would be “total chaos” at the border if Title 42 ended.
Many moderate Democrats are also beginning to sound the alarm, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, according to the Washington Post.
“We have a crisis of the border. Everyone can see that,” Manchin told CBS News on Sunday. “I think everyone realizes that something has to be done. It needs to be extended until we can get really, truly immigration reform. Immigration reform will not happen in our country until we all come on both sides of the aisle.”
Title 42 is set to expire on Dec. 20, leaving Biden only a brief window of time to extend the policy. There have been several court challenges seeking to block its expiration, but none have been successful.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday not to keep the policy in place, and Biden’s White House has argued that the true solution is for Congress to implement immigration reform.
Title 42 was a major factor in turning away 2.5 million migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. since March, but the Biden administration argues its end will not make the border insecure.
“To be clear: the lifting of the Title 42 public health order does not mean the border is open. Anyone who suggests otherwise is doing the work of smugglers spreading misinformation to make a quick buck off of vulnerable migrants,” assistant press secretary Abdullah Hasan told Fox News Digital.
“We will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws and work to expand legal pathways for migration while discouraging disorderly and unsafe migration,” Hasan added. “We have a robust effort underway to manage the border in a safe, orderly and humane way when Title 42 lifts as required by court order. Instead of playing political games, Republican officials should provide the funding the president requested for border security and management, and pass the comprehensive immigration reform measures he proposed so we can finally have a modernized immigration system that works.”