With illegal immigrant encounters at the U.S. southern border at the highest on record, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) has said that ending Title 42 will cause even greater harm to Americans and those crossing illegally and that doing so is gross negligence by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“That is a complete dereliction of duty, it is endangering the American people,” Roy told Steve Lance, the host of NTD’s “Capitol Report.” “For the people that are looking at this for the first time and don’t know what Title 42 is, it’s literally the only thing that is standing between us and a completely wide-open border.”
The Title 42 public health clause is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rule that permits Customs and Border Protection agents to turn away migrants at the border to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 1, the Biden administration announced that it plans to end the policy by the end of May.
Mayorkas’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
The Biden administration tried to end Title 42, which was put in place in March 2020, in 2021, but couldn’t because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. Roy said that when the Biden administration ends the policy, the number of illegal immigrants who will be released into the United States will double.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), there were more than 164,000 encounters at the southern border in February, which is a dramatic increase from previous years.
“This administration has been using it less than the Trump administration, but has been using it at least enough to turn away about half the folks. Now let’s put that in context,” Roy said. “In all of March, we’re looking at about 200,000 people, of whom about 100,000 would be turned away under Title 42.”
He said current immigration policies embolden and enrich drug cartels.
“That means cartels are empowered, they’re enriched, more of these migrants are put into the sex trafficking, trade, and [are] endangered,” Roy said, noting that record levels of the drug fentanyl are being smuggled in, which is fueling a drug epidemic.
Democrats, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have called for ending Title 42, saying that it’s inhumane and that puts illegal immigrants, especially children, at greater risk.
“We urge the Biden Administration to fulfill its early promise to restore access to asylum and end the usage of Title 42 once and for all,” the Democrat senators said in a joint statement in March.
Roy, who represents a district in the border state of Texas, is especially concerned about the well-being of his constituents when the health restriction is halted.
“You have empowered criminal drug cartels, impaired the health of Americans, damaged America’s economic health, allowed illegal migrants to destroy private property, and placed American citizens at imminent risk of physical harm,” he wrote to Mayorkas in an official letter.
Contrary to what Democrats say, the current border situation isn’t compassionate toward those entering, according to Roy.
“We’re not talking about a handful of migrants walking across the river to just get a job in Texas,” he said. “We’re talking about a daily siege that is being driven by cartels for profit and being countenanced and allowed purposely by a Democratic Party more interested in their own crass political benefits in the false name of compassion.”
He said because of unenforced asylum laws and the policy of catch and release, at the rate that illegal immigrants are flooding the U.S. southern border, 2022 could see 2 million people enter the country illegally, especially when Title 42 is eliminated.
White House director of communications Kate Bedingfield was asked by a reporter whether the administration is “prepared to deal with the aftermath of ending Title 42 and the expected influx of migrants.” She said the decision about whether the administration would end Title 42 is “not an immigration or migration enforcement measure” but a “public health directive.”
DHS officials told reporters on March 29 of contingency plans, which include a scenario in which up to 18,000 border crossings could be seen per day. Currently, Border Patrol is seeing about 7,100 illegal immigrants per day.
“We need to be prepared for what we’re considering a potential contingency, which is that the lifting of Title 42 could increase flows,” a senior DHS official told reporters during the background briefing, multiple media outlets reported.
Mimi Nguyen Li contributed to this report.