GOP Warns Against Biden's Plan to End Title 42 Restrictions on Immigration

GOP Warns Against Biden's Plan to End Title 42 Restrictions on Immigration
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (L) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speak to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington on May 12, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Joseph Lord

Republicans are raising the alarm on President Joe Biden's decision to end Title 42, a Trump-era rule that significantly restricted immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, President Donald Trump established public health restrictions that allowed Border Patrol agents to turn illegal immigrants away at the border and force them to return to Mexico.

In an April 1 statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the end of Trump’s Title 42 restrictions.

“In consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this termination will be implemented on May 23, 2022, to enable DHS time to implement 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 in the statement.

“After considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC Director has determined that an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.”

In line with the CDC recommendation, the Biden administration announced that Title 42 restrictions would end on May 23.

Now Republicans and other opponents of Biden are decrying the decision, saying it will only worsen the already-raging border crisis.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) blasted the decision in an April 7 letter addressed to President Joe Biden (pdf).

“[Custom and Border Protection's] Title 42 authority to expel migrants is necessary both to protect public health and to adequately manage the challenges the agency continues to face due to exponential increases in border encounters at the Southern border," Cruz wrote.

"I have deep concerns that this Administration may attempt to lower security standards and divert resources away from the Department of Veterans Affairs ... specifically, medical personnel, to deal with the consequences of this self-inflicted border crisis.

"I call on you to categorically denounce any policy which would result in diverting resources intended for American veterans to migrants at the Southern border," Cruz's letter concluded. "Further, I urge you to secure our Southern border and immediately renew Title 42."

The decision was also criticized by lawmakers on Twitter.

"President Biden is ending Title 42—which prohibits the entry of immigrants who pose health risks," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. "Yet Americans are still required to wear masks on planes."
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in a tweet, "The Senate must hold immediate hearings on the crisis at the border and President Biden’s plan to lift Title 42."
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote: "If the Biden administration suspends Title 42 on May 23rd, essentially they must end all Covid-19 related rules, mandates, and laws. If the Democrats want to allow millions of illegal aliens to invade America then they don’t care one single bit about anyones [sic] safety."
In another tweet, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) warned, "The #BidenBorderCrisis is about to get a whole lot worse when Title 42 is repealed."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been eyed as a potential nominee for president or vice president in 2024, also condemned the decision.

"Joe Biden's reckless border policies have allowed 2+ million foreigners to enter our country illegally via the southern border," DeSantis wrote. "Revoking Title 42 will supercharge the skyrocketing flow of illegal aliens, increasing drug, human, and sex trafficking.

"This is a dereliction of duty!"

The move has also sparked criticism from former Hawaii Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who has moved increasingly away from her former party in recent years.

"Biden/Harris open-border policy has been a disaster," Gabbard said. "Rescinding Title 42 will make the massive flood of immigrants even worse. Main beneficiaries are gangs, cartels & human traffickers. Trump policy of having people wait on other side of the border worked & needs to be reinstated."

Republicans have sought to use the issue to force compromises on Democrats' $10 billion CCP virus spending package.

While differences on the spending bill were apparently ironed out between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Biden's decision to overturn Title 42 caused several GOP lawmakers, including McConnell himself, to turn against the package without an amendment to reinstate the Trump-era rule.

“I think there’ll have to be an amendment on Title 42 in order to move the bill,” McConnell said. “There’s several other amendments that we’re going to want to offer, and so we’ll need to enter into some kind of agreement to process these amendments in order to go forward with the bill.”

The issue continues to gain traction among Republicans, which makes it unclear if Democrats will be able to advance any COVID-19 spending bill through the equally split Senate without the concession.

While the White House has conceded that the decision to end Title 42 may bring an "influx" of illegal aliens to the border, Biden has given no indication that he intends to change course on the rule change.