EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Twenty-two members of the Texas congressional delegation are urging the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place because border communities aren’t ready to handle a massive release of migrants.
Title 42 is a public health rule allowing border agents to immediately expel newly arrived migrants deemed inadmissible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandate is up for review this week, and the bipartisan group fears will not be renewed.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the lawmakers noted that cities already feeling the pinch of unauthorized migration don’t have the temporary housing, health care and transportation services needed to deal with a rollback of such authority.
Unauthorized migration remains at historical highs, with border agents encountering more than 2 million migrants in the calendar year 2021 and nearly 1 million just since October 1.
“If the CDC were to rescind its Title 42 order at this time, Border Patrol facilities and local communities would be forced to absorb at least double the current number of migrants with likely catastrophic results,” said the letter signed by Texas U.S. Reps. Tony Gonzales, a Republican, Democrats Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, among others. The three represent districts bordering Mexico that have seen near-record migration in the past year.
The lawmakers that also include Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn – both Republicans – fear that doing away with Title 42 will encourage more illegal migration to the United States.
“We urge that Title 42 remain in place until such time as the number of apprehensions along the Southwest border drops to a manageable level,” the lawmakers wrote. “We also ask that you collaborate with Congress to develop an appropriate plan for an orderly transition back to relying exclusively on Title 8 authority.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, border agents routinely expelled or deported to Mexico migrants deemed inadmissible to the United States. Having a criminal record or prior deportation history could make the migrant inadmissible under Title 8. So could something as simple as not being in possession of a valid immigrant visa, re-entry permit, border crossing card or other valid immigration documents.
“At the current levels of migration, DHS lacks adequate capacity to process and detain all migrants apprehended along the Southwest border under Title 8 authority,” the lawmakers wrote. “Border Patrol stations in the Rio Grande Valley (in January) were overcrowded and the volume of apprehensions limited the effectiveness of COVID-19 mitigation measures.”
Separately, Gonzales tweeted photos of large groups of migrants recently apprehended near Eagle Pass, Texas. He also releases a video of detained migrants being released from a bus into the community.
“If the Biden administration does away with title 42 you will see these historic numbers double overnight,” he said.
The letter comes amid multiple media reports stating the Biden administration intends to end Title 42 in April and is putting together a crisis response team and requesting the assistance of the Pentagon in anticipation of a “mass migration event”.
The administration is also feeling pressure from immigrant advocacy groups, who say there’s no medical basis to keep Title 42 in place anymore, given a worldwide drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.