Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Delay End of Title 42 Border Deportations

On Thursday, a group of Democratic senators joined Republican lawmakers in introducing a measure that would temporarily stall the Biden administration. plan to end pandemic restrictions which allow border authorities to deport migrants quickly.

the proposalco-sponsored by six Republican senators and five moderate Democratic senators, would block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from acting on an order issued last week that will stop allowing the border rule, known by the title 42at the end of May.

Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona; Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; Jon Tester of Montana; and Joe Manchin of West Virginia co-sponsored the bill, alongside Republican Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma; John Thune of South Dakota; John Cornyn of Texas; Thom Tillis of North Carolina; Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Rob Portman of Ohio.

The measure is expected to be proposed as an amendment to the latest COVID-19 relief package that Congress is currently debating, according to a person familiar with the plan. Axios reported for the first time the details of the invoice on Wednesday evening.

Since being signed into law in 2020 as a temporary pandemic response measure by the Trump administration, Title 42 has allowed U.S. border officials to summarily deport migrants to Mexico or their home country, circumventing laws that require the government to interview asylum seekers to make sure they won’t face harm if deported.

For more than a year, the Biden administration has said the deportations were necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 inside border processing facilities. But after legal setbacks and political pressure from liberal Democrats, the CDC announced last week that it would stop allowing deportations of migrants on May 23.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said evictions are no longer necessary due to improving pandemic conditions, including declining coronavirus cases since Omicron’s surge this winter and rising rates. of vaccination in the United States and in the countries of origin of the migrants.

But the measure introduced Thursday would require the administration to end the national COVID-19 public health emergency declaration and then notify Congress of the planned termination of Title 42. After such notification, the CDC would have to wait at least 60 days. before repealing title 42.

During that 60-day period, the CDC would be required to consult with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees border agents, to submit a plan to Congress on how the government would handle a potential spike in arrivals. of migrants once Title 42 is lifted.

If this plan is not submitted within 30 days of the initial notification, any effort to terminate Title 42 shall be delayed 30 days after the plan is sent to Congress.

Customs and Border Patrol agents apprehend a group of Brazilian migrants who illegally crossed the border in Otay Mesa, California on August 13, 2021.

SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic support for Thursday’s bill illustrates the intraparty dispute among Democrats sparked by the CDC’s decision to end evictions from Title 42, which is Already used by Republican campaigns to attack President Biden and vulnerable Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Two of the bill’s co-sponsors, Kelly and Hassan, are up for re-election in swing states. Other Democrats facing re-election fights have criticized the planned overturning of Title 42, including Senators Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, although they did not co-sponsor Thursday’s bill.

Like their fellow Republicans, Democratic critics of the Title 42 announcement said DHS was not ready to respond to the expected surge in border arrivals that authorities are bracing for once deportations are complete.

“The Biden administration was wrong to set an end date for Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in place,” Kelly said in a statement Thursday. “We need a safe, orderly and humane response on our southern border and our bipartisan legislation holds the Biden administration accountable for that.”

DHS officials said they mobilize additional personnel, including border patrol agents; getting more buses and planes to transport migrant families; and the construction of new migrant processing facilities along the southern border in anticipation of the expected increase in migration.

A White House official said Congress should not delay passing the coronavirus relief package by trying to add “unrelated issues,” noting that funding is “needed right now to protect the American people”.

“If we don’t have treatments, if we don’t have the drugs people need, Americans will die from COVID, whether they support or oppose the immigration administration, the custody children or environmental rules,” the White House official told CBS News.

In a interview With ‘CBS News Evening News’ anchor and editor Norah O’ Donnell on Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the US could ‘very well’ see an increase in border arrivals , but noted that his department was preparing for different contingencies, including increasing resources and expanding transport capacity.

“What sets us apart from the past is the fact that we will not implement cruelty policies that violate our asylum laws,” Mayorkas said. “We are rebuilding a system that has been completely dismantled.”

While some moderates have expressed skepticism about the end of Title 42, many Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have called for the policy to be terminated for months, saying evictions are part of it. of an effort by the Trump administration to gut the US asylum system.

On Wednesday, Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, post a “reminder” on Twitter regarding US border policy.

“Responsible management of our border and upholding our moral and legal obligations to treat immigrants and refugees with dignity are not mutually exclusive,” he wrote. “We can and MUST do both.”

Norman D. Briggs