Arizona Democrats Caution Biden Not to Cancel Title 42 Without a Back-Up Plan in Place

The Biden administration is widely expected to cancel Title 42, a public health provision that was invoked in 2020, at the outset of the COVID pandemic, allowing border authorities to return illegal migrants to Mexico. The Associated Press reports that May 23 is the target date. That impending action has a lot of people very nervous, for good reason: In the wake of the Biden administration’s scorched earth assault on all other forms of border enforcement, Title 42 is the only policy in place under which illegal aliens are being denied entry to the United States.

Under the circumstances, everyone knows what will happen. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) reports that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “Office of Intelligence anticipates hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing within two weeks and as many as a million crossing within six weeks of when they lift Title 42.” That works out to about 24,000 people per day, or more than triple the number of migrants encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the height of the Biden border surge last summer.

These projections cannot be dismissed as Republican alarmism. The folks at DHS work for Joe Biden and, indeed, the agency is hard at work preparing to manage the anticipated deluge. What apparently is not being considered in the makeshift war room that has been set up in the basement of DHS headquarters are plans to avert or deter exponential increases in the number of migrants entering the United States illegally.

While even larger surges of illegal migration appear to be the objective of far left congressional Democrats (who, no doubt, have seen the same intelligence reports as Sen. Lankford), the prospect of even greater chaos terrifies more moderate, purple state Democrats.

Two of those worried Democrats happen to be on the front line of the wave of migrants President Biden’s advisors tell him would be the immediate response to canceling Title 42. Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly penned a letter to President Biden last week expressing their concerns about ending Title 42 without any other measures in place to secure the border. Sinema, as we all learned during the Build Back Better debate, doesn’t care much about what President Biden or the Democratic congressional leadership think. Kelly, on the other hand, has been a loyal party soldier, but will have to answer directly to Arizona voters in November. A recent poll showed Kelly trailing a generic Republican opponent in that race. 

“We write to you to express great concern about the lack of a specific plan from your Administration with respect to potential changes to the Title 42 Public Health authority,” the letter opens. “[W]e urge your Administration not to make any changes to Title 42 implementation until you are completely ready to execute and coordinate a comprehensive plan that ensures a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border.” These are concerns that Sinema and Kelly communicated to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last June – ones they say have not been taken seriously. “To date, we have not yet seen evidence that DHS has developed and implemented a sufficient plan to maintain a humane and orderly process in the event of an end to Title 42,” the senators continue.

Nobody else has seen any evidence that the administration has a Plan B to secure the border once Title 42 is scrapped, either – and May 23 is not very far off.

Ira Mehlman: Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.