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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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White House tries to allay concerns as end nears for Title 42 border policy

The Biden administration and Congress are blaming each other while human rights groups criticize the plan to tackle an expected influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Biden administration is projecting a sense of preparedness, but human rights activists are sounding the alarm over a potential crisis when the Title 42 border policy ends at midnight Thursday.

Meanwhile, the White House sought to blame Congress for inaction while Republican lawmakers attacked the Biden administration for not taking a stronger stance on immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The Trump-era Title 42, implemented at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, allows for quicker expulsion of migrants on public health grounds before they can seek asylum and has been used more than 2 million times.

In effort to combat the expected influx of migrants, the White House announced the establishment of immigration processing centers in Latin America to intercept potential migrants before they reach the U.S. and a surge of 1,500 active-duty troops.

“We are clear-eyed about the challenges we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead and we are ready to meet them.” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press briefing Thursday. “Our borders are not open. People who cross our border unlawfully and without a legal basis to remain will be promptly processed and removed.”

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that “it’s going to be chaotic for a while” at the border and Congress needs to provide more funding for border agents.

“We need more at the border, not less at the border,” he said.

Starting Friday, border agents will expel illegal immigrants by way of a different law, Title 8, which requires screening for asylum claims but also allows for a similar expedited removal process. Those crossing illegally will be barred from entering the U.S. for at least five years and be ineligible for asylum.

“If anyone arrives at our southern border after midnight tonight, they will be presumed ineligible for asylum,” Mayorkas said.

Last year marked the first time in U.S. history that the U.S. saw 2 million people arrested as they attempted to cross into the country from Mexico illegally. The country is on track to do so again, having logged over 1 million such encounters in the last six months.

While Mayorkas said the Biden administration can meet the immigration challenge, he cautioned that “it is going to take a period of time for our approach to gain traction and show results.” He also commended Biden for expanding opportunities for lawful migration “like no other president.”

One of the measures Mayorkas touted was the CBP One app, which migrants are supposed to use to make appointments at immigration processing centers. Human rights organizations, however, say the app is plagued with problems and is a clear example of an ineffective plan for the border.

Pedro De Velasco, director of education and advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative, said the border policies are becoming “stricter and inhumane.”

“How can we look our brothers and sisters into their eyes after they have survived the most unimaginable violence and persecution and tell them that the only way to access much needed asylum is through a dysfunctional application like CBP One,” De Velasco said. 

Some organizations have criticized the plan to make migrants seek asylum in the same countries they are trying to flee or others that are dangerous.

“These measures are geared towards limiting and stopping the entry of poor and vulnerable people into the U.S.,” said Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas. “The U.S. government is trying to force them to seek protection in another country before coming to the United States, even though it is aware that such protection is non-existent.”

Republicans have been hammering the administration for weeks for what they say will be an influx of migrants that will overwhelm the border.

“In just a few hours, Joe Biden will allow Title 42 to terminate and he will open the flood gates to a border crisis never before seen and never thought possible,” Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conservative firebrand, tweeted

Senator Ted Budd, a North Carolina Republican, criticized the Biden administration for what he said was a lack of support at the border.

“In order to be a strong nation, we have to have strong borders. And right now, we don’t have that. We are in the middle of the worst border crisis in our nation’s history,” he said in a press conference Thursday. “We’ve simply got a president that has retreated from his responsibility to defend and protect this country. Bottom line: This is a dereliction of duty.”

Even some Democrats have criticized the administration, with Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego saying his state’s “frontline communities are bracing for a potential surge at the border.”

“Federal agencies have had time to plan, but their efforts have fallen short,” he said in a press release.

The executive branch has placed blame on Congress for a lack of immigration reform, which Mayorkas said has left the U.S. with “a broken, outdated immigration system in place for two decades.”

“We are working with an immigration system that was last reformed in the 1990s,” he said. “Migration has changed dramatically since then and we need our laws updated.”

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