GOP senators urge Biden to reverse Title 42 termination, citing estimates of migrant deluge

A group of Republican senators are calling on President Biden to reverse the decision to end the Title 42 public health order next week amid fears of a new surge.

FIRST ON FOX: Republican senators, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, are urging President Biden to reverse his decision to end the Title 42 public health order next week amid fears that there could be a massive spike in migration to the border once it is terminated.

“We write today to implore you to reverse your decision to end the Title 42 public health order, set to expire on May 11. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s own estimates, border surges in response to the termination of the Title 42 order could reach 13,000 encounters with illegal immigrants a day,” the letter says. 

“This is untenable and will exacerbate what is already a national security and humanitarian disaster on our southern border,” they say.

Senators who have signed the letter include Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., John Kennedy, R-La., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.


The public health order was implemented in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border for public health reasons. It has been used to expel millions of illegal migrants by both the Biden and Trump administrations. Approximately 46% of all migrant encounters in March resulted in a Title 42 expulsion.

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But with the order due to end, officials have been bracing for a new surge at the border from migrants who believe they have a better chance of being released into the U.S. interior. The Biden administration has been warning migrants this is not the case and has promised that it will be using its regular enforcement abilities under Title 8. 

Separately, it has taken a number of measures to deal with any surge, including expanding legal pathways, setting up processing centers in Latin America, and implementing an asylum rule that would make migrants automatically ineligible for asylum if they had crossed illegally and failed to claim asylum at a country through which they already traveled. This week the administration announced it will be sending 1,500 troops to the border.

However, the senators believe that the moves are too little, too late, arguing that moving back to Title 8 “without increased enforcement will be insufficient to gain control of the southern border.”

They argue also that the asylum rule, along with the requirement that migrants make appointments on the expanded CBP One app will be inadequate to prevent the abuse of the asylum system by migrants.

“A rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility is a weak response to the rampant and ongoing abuse of our asylum system. Nothing in this rule prevents aliens from making frivolous asylum claims. Instead, under the terms of the rule, aliens are encouraged to schedule a time to present at a port of entry through the CBP One mobile application, after which time many, if not most, will subsequently claim asylum,” they say.

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“Whether done through the CBP One mobile app or not, this gaming of our asylum system is a major pull factor that is causing the border crisis in the first place, and until your administration has a serious plan to address that, the authority Title 42 gives will still be necessary,” they argue.


Finally, they tell President Biden that the border “remains under assault” and a surge of 13,000 encounters a day “would be the equivalent of throwing gasoline on an already raging fire.” 

“We encourage you to seize this moment to secure the United States’ southern border,” they say.

The ending of Title 42 comes amid a continued fight over how best to secure and operate the southern border. Republicans in the House this week formally introduced its legislation to secure the border and reform the asylum system — although it appears to have little chance of passing the Senate.

The administration, meanwhile, has been highlighting its efforts to adopt a regional approach to the crisis while also putting pressure on Republicans to provide additional funding and also pass a comprehensive immigration reform package that it unveiled in January 2021

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