Congress is once again bracing for knock-down political combat over a burgeoning crisis at the southern border.
Title 42, a Trump policy that greatly helps Customs and Border Protection to turn migrants away without allowing them to file for asylum, is slated to end on May 23.
As the Biden administration prepares to lift Title 42 on May 23, a group of senators has expressed concern about the lifting of Title 42, and throw the Biden administration’s plans into question.
One of them is Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas who privately warned members of Congress, says that he has concerns about the decision and is asking the administration to reconsider or have a more concrete plan in place for the influx of migrants expected to arrive at the southern border, according to a source with direct knowledge of the internal discussion.
According to the Hill:
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has privately told members of Congress he’s concerned with the Biden administration’s handling of its plans to lift Title 42 on May 23, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.
[…]The private airings by Mayorkas, recounted by lawmakers, belie public posturing that the administration is prepared for a potential influx of migrants. The secretary is not only charged with protecting the border but overseeing the process of ending the Trump-era immigration control.
[…]Members and their staff told Axios that, after Mayorkas walked them through the DHS’ preparations for the potential border surge, they did not feel the administration had reached the level of preparedness needed to carry out the operation successfully by May 23.“From the time Joe Biden was sworn into office, he cast away all the border policies that had been fought over for four years that were finally working and making some sense of securing our border, keeping drugs and human trafficking out, allowing people to seek asylum in an orderly manner, and Biden replaced those with nothing.
And so, he’s created this massive crisis which is why I think finally you see some Democratic pushback in the Congress against what is a completely chaotic policy. And I think Secretary Mayorkas should resign in disgust over the inability to secure the border, and I think that’s due directly from White House staff meddling with the mission of the Homeland Security Department.”
DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa told Axios: “As Secretary Mayorkas has said repeatedly, Title 42 is a public health authority — not an immigration authority — and he defers to the public health experts at the CDC for any decisions related to it.
“As he has also repeatedly said, we anticipate an increase in migrant encounters after the lifting of Title 42, and he is leading a whole-of-government response to apprehend, process and remove from the country those who are not eligible for relief,” she said.
A White House official told Axios: “DHS has a plan and we’re working to implement it, and we will continue to work with Congress to implement the lifting of Title 42 in an as orderly and humane way as possible.”
Several leading Democratic Senate contenders are also urging the Biden administration to take a more cautious approach to repeal Title 42. A majority of Americans oppose lifting the legislation, according to a recent Morning Consult poll; while support and opposition break down predictably along party lines, only 31% of independent voters support Biden lifting Title 42.
Republicans strongly oppose the lifting of Title 42, with some characterizing the move as “irresponsible.” Others have said it will turn what is already a crisis on the border into a catastrophe.
Other politicians, mostly Democrats, as well as human rights advocates, have applauded the plan to lift Title 42, calling the policy “cruel and discriminatory” and remarking that ending it was long overdue. Those who oppose Title 42 say it’s a violation of migrants’ rights that, in some circumstances, puts migrants’ lives in danger. These critics also argue that the public health code shouldn’t replace immigration policy.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are still demanding answers from Biden administration officials.