Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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White House immigration policy draws fire as pandemic-era rule lapses

Republicans have urged President Biden to extend emergency immigration authority under Title 42, framing its end as an open door into the U.S. for waves of migrants.

WASHINGTON (CN) — With just days to go before the U.S. will stop enforcing immigration limits put in place in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Republicans on social media shared images of migrants who had recently crossed the border — illustrating what they say is an emerging crisis.

“It’s only going to get worse when Title 42 ends,” the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican leadership tweeted Monday, pairing their words with Fox News drone footage of what the outlet said were people who had recently crossed the U.S. border into Texas.

In the three years since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, both the Trump and Biden administrations have deployed Title 42 more than 2 million times to send migrants back across the border. Rather than a Homeland Security policy, Title 42 drew authority from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, limiting migration on the basis of public health. As the national pandemic public health emergency winds down, President Biden is poised to allow the policy to expire Thursday.

The White House expects increased immigration and asylum applications to follow. To that end, it has already taken action that it says will support border officials, including a 90-day deployment of roughly 1,500 active duty soldiers to assist in an advisory capacity and a proposed rule that would prevent people without legal documentation from claiming U.S. asylum.

And to head off migrants at the pass, the Biden administration has also said it would stand up immigration processing centers across Latin America.

For many Republicans, though, these steps are not enough to replace the control that Title 42 brought to the border.

“President Biden created this crisis, and his policies are making it worse,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted Sunday. “On Thurs[-day], he will end Title 42 — the most valuable tool available to secure the border.”

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst concurred, adding that the Biden administration waited too long to smooth the policy’s end.

“I do support allowing those 1,500 active duty troops to go to the border, but that doesn’t solve the problem and it’s not a permanent solution,” the Republican lawmaker said on Fox News Sunday. “We do need to reform the immigration system, but how can we do that with assurances unless we actually secure our border first?”

Independent Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined Republicans in criticizing the White House’s plan for phasing out Title 42 during an event broadcast Sunday by CBS News. Sinema, who recently broke with the Democratic Party, said that she had spoken to the administration about its immigration policy and was not pleased with the response, but refused to elaborate further.

“We’ve had two years to prepare for this,” the Arizona senator said. “I think there’s a system in Washington, D.C., that is deeply disconnected from the real lives and experiences of border communities and the migrants that seek to come to this country.”

Title 42 has received received criticism as well from some Democrats and immigration advocates, who contend that the public health basis for the policy is little more than a fig leaf used by the Biden administration to stymie asylum seekers.

That argument formed the basis of a federal court ruling that struck down Title 42 in November. Though a coalition of Republican-led states secured a Supreme Court stay, the justices dropped their review in February after the White House informed the court that the impending end of the Covid-19 public health emergency would nullify Title 42 regardless of a ruling.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have vowed to take legislative action this week.

Speaker McCarthy said Monday that the House would vote on a GOP-backed bill that would reimplement border policies first proposed under the Trump administration. The controversial legislation would further restrict where and how asylum seekers can apply for protections in the U.S. and would give the Department of Homeland Security license to shut down legal ports of entry to migrants.

Democrats have derided the measure as cruel and contradictory, as have some Republican lawmakers such as Texas Congressman Tony Gonzales, who represents a large portion of the U.S. border with Mexico.

Even if Republicans can muster the votes to pass their border security legislation, its chances of clearing the Senate — where Democrats hold a one-seat majority — are slim.

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Categories / Government, National, Politics

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