Freshman Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.) introduced the “Protecting Americans from Unnecessary Spread upon Entry (PAUSE) Act,” her first piece of legislation as a member of the House of Representatives. The PAUSE Act would codify former President Trump’s use of Title 42 to quickly remove illegal aliens in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Under Rep. Herrell’s PAUSE Act, President Biden could not rescind the Title 42 border policy until all state and federal lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, curfews, and other COVID-19 mandates end, all public and federal public health emergencies for COVID-19 end, and until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduce traveler health risk levels for Canada and Mexico to Level 1. Under Rep. Herrell’s legislation, Title 42 would be one of the final federal measures to remain in place combatting COVID-19.
Travel restrictions slowing the spread of COVID-19 are some of the most immediate and effective measures available to the federal government in combating the disease. These measures are also popular with the general public. A June 2020 Zogby poll found that 75-80 percent of respondents agreed that it is prudent to “slow the admission of foreign nationals until we can provide thorough health screening to everyone entering the country.”
Even President Joe Biden, who campaigned vigorously against President Trump’s use of immigration restrictions to fight the pandemic, announced new travel bans in an effort to stem the spread of the deadly virus despite calling such efforts “xenophobic” as a candidate.
The use of Title 42 functions in a similar way. The United States is still battling the coronavirus, and continues to have one of the highest infection rates in the world. Title 42 prevents infected migrants from entering the U.S. and potentially spreading the virus further – that is a fact removed from the passionate and heated politics of immigration.
Rep. Herrell’s PAUSE Act comes as rumors continue to circulate that President Biden may end the use of Title 42 at the border in an effort to appease activist groups – in direct and incongruous contradiction to his Jan. 25 order halting legal admissions of people from more than two dozen nations. There is certainly no health justification for lifting the Title 42 restrictions, as border states like Texas, Arizona, and California have some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country.
Rep. Herrell’s bill comes at an important time in our country’s fight to curtail COVID-19. As the vaccine rollout continues nationwide, it is important to continue using every tool available to protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19, including Title 42. The PAUSE Act would ensure that the U.S. does not prematurely end the use of this protective measure for the sake of politics alone.