(The Center Square) – A Democratic governor and several Democrats in Congress are calling on President Joe Biden to reverse the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end Title 42.
Title 42, a public health authority that enables federal agents to quickly expel illegal immigrants during a public health emergency, has been in effect since March 2020. On April 1, the CDC announced it was terminating it May 23.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from the border town of Laredo, Texas, told Fox News Sunday that Biden was listening to immigration activists, not border communities or their representatives such as himself.
“But my question is, who’s listening to the men and women in green and in blue?” he asked, referring to Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents.
“And more importantly, who’s listening to the border communities, the sheriffs, the landowners, the rest of the people that live on the border?” he asked.
Cuellar is facing a tough runoff election May 24 and, if he wins, a tough general election in November.
“How can we have the federal public emergency extended to July 15 and say there’s a pandemic going on in the United States, but at the border, everything’s fine and just let people into the United States,” he said, adding, “Those are mixed messages.”
He also addressed the administration’s mixed messages when it comes to mandates. “How can you ask for international travelers to make sure … they’re vaccinated or even show their COVID-19 negative tests if they fly in?” Cueller asked, referring to vaccine mandates imposed on legal travelers when no such requirements exist for those who’ve entered the U.S. illegally and are then released into the U.S. by the Biden administration.
Cuellar also posted pictures of existing overcrowded holding facilities at the border with Title 42 in place.
“Title 42 is critical to ensuring the health and safety of migrants, law enforcement, and border residents,” he said.
Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak wrote Biden late last week expressing concerns about Title 42 ending. He asked him “to reconsider any intentions of undoing Title 42 until there is a comprehensive plan for how the United States can avoid the humanitarian crisis this policy change would spark.”
The CDC issued a statement April 1 announcing it was ending Title 42 due to “an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics),” and said “suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.”
Instead, the Department of Homeland Security was implementing “appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as scaling up a program to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants and prepare for resumption of regular migration under Title 8,” the CDC said.
But on April 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced he was renewing the national public health emergency order “as a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.” He said the public health emergency “exists and has existed since January 27, 2020, nationwide,” and was renewed by the Trump and Biden administrations eight times.
Set to expire April 15, it was renewed effective April 16 for an additional 90 days.
Arizona Democratic U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema argues extending the public health emergency “proves the need to delay lifting Title 42 to protect the health and safety of Arizona communities and migrants.” In a statement, she said she would “keep pushing for transparency and accountability from the administration to help secure the border, keep Arizona communities safe and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely.”
Earlier this month, she joined a bipartisan effort to prevent Title 42’s end until after the national public health emergency order ends. Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., the lead Democratic cosponsor, filed the Public Health and Border Security Act of 2022. Joining him as Democratic cosponsors were Sinema and Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia, Jon Tester from Montana, and Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire.
U.S. Rep. Jared Goldman, D-Maine, was the lead Democratic cosponsor of the companion bill in the House. Joining him were Democratic cosponsors Reps. Tom O’Halleran and Greg Stanton of Arizona, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, and Tim Ryan of Ohio.
The bill isn’t likely to pass the House even if it were to pass the Senate.
So far, 22 states have sued to stop the administration from halting Title 42 in two separate lawsuits. Unless the Biden administration is stopped by the courts, DHS announced last month measures it was putting in place to prepare for up to 18,000 people a day expected to enter U.S. custody once Title 42 is lifted.
This estimate is in addition to the roughly 2 million people who were apprehended or encountered by Border Patrol agents in Biden’s first year in office while Title 42 was in place. All encounter numbers exclude “gotaways,” those who evade capture and don’t surrender at ports of entry.