A bipartisan group of senators are seeking to pressure President Joe Biden into reversing his administration’s decision to scrap a Trump-era immigration policy allowing the U.S. to turn away migrants at its southern border.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ.) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) led a group of five Democratic and six Republican senators in introducing a bill Thursday to block the Biden administration from ending Title 42, which allows border enforcement to turn away migrants at the southern border over COVID-19 concerns.
Lawmakers say that ending the policy, as the Biden administration plans to do in late May, will leave border communities unprotected, as well as result in a massive influx of migrants that the U.S. government is not prepared to manage.
“Arizona communities bear the brunt of the federal government’s failure at our border, so we’re stepping in and protecting border communities by ensuring the Administration works hand-in-hand with local leaders, law enforcement, and non-profits to put a comprehensive, workable plan in place before lifting Title 42,” Sinema said in a statement.
Lankford said: “The Biden Administration is declaring the pandemic over on our southern border but still active on our healthcare workers, military, and travelers. Department of Homeland Security intel projections show that potentially a million people will illegally cross the moment Title 42 is lifted. But instead of a workable replacement plan, the only plan the Biden Administration seems to have is moving people faster into the interior of the country.”
“They cannot have it both ways. If they think it’s safe enough to lift Title 42 at the border, then it must be safe enough to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency on the whole country,” he added. “But when we drop Title 42 at the border, DHS must also implement a workable solution to expel migrants.”
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it would be scrapping the Title 42 policy on May 23 after determining that the rule is “no longer necessary.” The CDC said in part:
After considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC Director has determined that an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.
With CDC’s assistance and guidance, DHS has and will implement additional COVID-19 mitigation procedures. These measures, along with the current public health landscape where 97.1% of the U.S. population lives in a county identified as having “low” COVID-19 Community Level, will sufficiently mitigate the COVID-19 risk for U.S. communities.
Biden officials believe that tens of thousands of migrants are in shelters south of the U.S. border waiting for Title 42 to lapse before entering the U.S. and filing asylum claims.
After the CDC’s announcement, several GOP-controlled states united in a lawsuit to stop the Biden administration from lifting Title 42.
“Missouri, Arizona, and Louisiana filed suit against the Biden Administration for rescinding Title 42 amid one of the worst border crises in this country’s history. Title 42 is a crucial tool for controlling the influx of illegal aliens at our Southern border,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement on Monday.