On April 1, the Biden administration announced its decision to end Title 42 expulsions at the border beginning on May 23. The decision prompted outcry from lawmakers and organizations who noted that ending Title 42 will incentivize even more people to present themselves at the southern border, exacerbating an already out-of-control border crisis.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recorded more than 100,000 apprehensions in every month that President Biden has been in office. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials estimate that more than 1 million aliens will travel to the border within six weeks following the end of Title 42. Coupled with President Biden’s low approval ratings and a generic ballot that favors Republicans, some Democrats are sounding the alarm over the administration’s decision to end Title 42.
Democratic Senators Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) introduced a bill that would tie ending Title 42 to the broader COVID-19 national emergency that remains in effect. A similar effort in the House of Representatives is led by Democratic members Jared Golden (Maine), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Greg Stanton (Ariz.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), and Chris Pappas (N.H.).
Other Democratic legislators expressed concern that ending Title 42 without some other measure in place was bound to lead to disaster. Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.), and Mark Warner (Va.) told reporters that they had concerns with the premature end of Title 42.
These comments and proposals represent the first time that members of the president’s own party have criticized the administration for its immigration decisions. These legislators raised no issue with President Biden ending the Migrant Protection Protocols, pulling out of the safe-third-country asylum agreements with the northern triangle countries, and issuing dangerous enforcement guidance that prevents the arrest and deportation of most illegal aliens.
Even their proposals – such as the aforementioned bill, the Public Health and Border Security Act – does nothing to install new programming or policy to curb the flow of illegal migration. Tying the end of Title 42 to the end of the broader COVID-19 national emergencies is sound, but what happens if the Biden administration ends those national emergencies? This is not out of the question. Facing the prospect of steep losses in the 2022 midterms, the Biden administration could end the national emergencies and declare “victory” over COVID-19 in an effort to boost the electoral prospects of Democrats.
The Biden administration’s purposeful destruction of immigration enforcement led us to this point. Title 42 is the final thread holding back complete chaos at the border, but it is not a long-term solution. Without actual policies in place that crack down on frivolous and meritless asylum claims, our immigration system will inevitably collapse under its own weight.
Whether through sincerity or a craven opportunity to shield themselves from political fallout, some Democrats are finally opening their eyes to the reality at our Southwest border. But rather than focusing only on Title 42, they need to look to broader solutions – how did we get to this point, and what can we do to reverse it? They would find that keeping Title 42 in place is only one small piece of an even larger puzzle.