Lawmakers want answers amid reports Biden will end Title 42 authority by end of July

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New Mexico congresswoman worries crisis will worsen if border agents can no longer expel migrants on public health grounds

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, right, instructs a migrant to walk toward the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge while deporting a group of migrants to Mexico, Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Hidalgo, Texas. The fate of thousands of migrant families who have recently arrived at the Mexico border is being decided by a mysterious new system under President Joe Biden. U.S. authorities are releasing migrants with “acute vulnerabilities” and allowing them to pursue asylum. But it’s not clear why some are considered vulnerable and not others. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Lawmakers are demanding answers from the Biden administration amid reports of an imminent end to Title 42 authority.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection public health rule has allowed border agents to expel unauthorized migrants from the country within hours of detention, to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 to the country. More than 112,000 of the 180,034 migrants apprehended in May were expelled to Mexico under Title 42.

“As the situation at the border continues to worsen, Title 42 has been the only thing preventing your border crisis from turning into a complete and uncontrollable catastrophe. If Title 42 is lifted, a surge of illegal immigration will hit our border, dwarfing what is happening today,” U.S. Reps. Yvette Herrell, R-New Mexico, and Brian Babin, R-Texas, wrote in a letter sent to the heads of the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security.

The lawmakers cited news reports quoting insiders that Biden is considering ending Title 42 on July 31 to settle pending litigation against the expulsion of families filed by the American Civil Liberty Union and to appease critics within his own party.

“While tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have been release into our country due to your catch and release policy … Title 42 successfully prevented hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from entering into our country,” the lawmakers’ letter said.

Herrell in January filed a bill called the PAUSE Act to keep Title 42 in place until basically all federal and state governments end COVID-19 emergency measures. The lawmakers said the pandemic continues to rage in some Latin American countries, namely Brazil and Guatemala. “To end Title 42 now … sends the message that illegal immigration is more important than protecting Americans,” their letter says.

A separate group of legislators, two Democrats and three Republicans, sent their own inquiry to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about the agency’s plans for Title 42.

“We hope to gain more clarity about how DHS intends to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition to relying only on traditional statutory authorities” to process unauthorized migrants, wrote the group that includes U.S. Reps. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.

The lawmakers said they’re committed to ensure a fair and humane treatment of migrants apprehended along the Southwest border, but expect a response from Mayorkas by this Thursday.

DHS should have a transition plan in place before ending Title 42. “The plan should be developed with the safety of border communities in mind and in consultation with local government leaders and community organizations, includes those providing services to migrants. A rapid and significant increase in the migrant population will have a direct impact on border communities and agencies,” their letter says.

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