Senate

Manchin: Biden’s repeal of Title 42 order ‘a frightening decision’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Friday slammed President Biden’s decision to rescind Title 42, a Trump-era health order used to rapidly deport people who cross the border without authorization, as “a frightening decision” that would likely increase the volume of migrants at the southern border.  

“Today’s announcement by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Biden Administration is a frightening decision,” Manchin said in a statement after Biden’s announcement.   

“Title 42 has been an essential tool in combatting the spread of COVID-19 and controlling the influx of migrants at our southern border. We are already facing an unprecedented increase in migrants this year, and that will only get worse if the Administration ends the Title 42 policy,” Manchin warned. 

His office noted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a record 1.7 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2021, a number four times higher than what was reported in 2020.  

Border officials expect to break that record in 2022 — Border Patrol officers had 838,000 migrant encounters at the southern border during the first three months of the year.  

“We are nowhere near prepared to deal with that influx. Until we have comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform that commits to securing our borders and providing a pathway to citizenship for qualified immigrants, Title 42 must stay in place,” he said.  

Fellow centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) joined Manchin in pushing back against the administration, warning it would “risk the health and safety” of her constituents.  

“Prematurely ending Title 42 without a comprehensive, workable plan would put at risk the health and safety of Arizona communities and migrants. Today’s decision to announce an end to Title 42 despite not yet having a comprehensive plan ready shows a lack of understanding about the crisis at our border,” she said in a statement.  

She was supported by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), a top GOP target in November’s midterm elections.   

“This is the wrong decision. It’s unacceptable to end Title 42 without a plan and coordination in place to ensure a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border,” Kelly said in a joint statement with Sinema.  

“From my numerous visits to the southern border and conversations with Arizona’s law enforcement, community leaders, mayors, and non-profits, it’s clear that this administration’s lack of a plan to deal with this crisis will further strain our border communities,” he added. 

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who is facing a competitive reelection race this fall, also criticized the administration’s decision.  

“Ending Title 42 prematurely will likely lead to a migrant surge that the administration does not appear to be ready for,” she tweeted on Friday.  

“I’ll keep pushing the administration to strengthen border security & look forward to hearing directly from border agents during my upcoming trip to the border,” she said.  

Biden’s decision to repeal Title 42 comes after more than a year of pressure from immigrant advocate groups that argued it improperly used health concerns about the spread of COVID-19 to deny migrants due process and asylum rights.  

The CDC implemented the health order at the start of the pandemic under former President Trump.  

The CDC said Friday that the order to suspend migrant entry into the country is “no longer necessary” because public health conditions have improved due to the availability of vaccines and therapeutic drugs.

Republicans on Capitol Hill immediately criticized the decision.  

“The Biden Administration’s messaging on the status of and response to COVID-19 continues to be a contradictory mess,” said Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.  

“On the one hand, the Administration is clamoring for additional emergency funding and costing taxpayers $5 billion per month by delaying student loan repayments, citing the continued threat of COVID-19,” he noted. “On the other hand, they’re rescinding safeguards in place to prevent new, potentially undetected variants from entering the country and encouraging Americans to return to normal life.” 

“They cannot have it both ways. The inconsistencies, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, do not inspire confidence that these decisions are being made based on science instead of politics,” he added.  

—Updated at 2:59 p.m.

Tags Biden immigration Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Maggie Hassan Mark Kelly Richard Burr southern border Title 42

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