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Two border mayors come out in support of ending Title 42

The mayors of Tucson, Ariz., and Brownsville, Texas, on Monday came out in favor of the Biden administration’s decision to end pandemic restrictions on asylum processing.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero (D) and Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez released a joint statement celebrating the administration’s decision to end Title 42, a Trump-era policy that blocked many migrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the border.

“We support the Biden Administration’s decision to repeal Title 42 and uphold our legal and moral obligation of providing the fundamental right to seek asylum. It is the smart thing to do and it is the right thing to do. A fair and humane immigration system should be a priority for all of our leaders, not just those such as us who see the effects of a broken system every day,” the mayors wrote.

Romero, the mayor of Tucson, was elected as a Democrat. Brownsville mayors are nonpartisan, but Mendez publicly supported President Biden in the 2020 election.

The statement of support from two key border region officials comes as the administration grapples with the political fallout of its decision to end the policy. Both Tucson and Brownsville have U.S. Customs and Border Protection points of entry from Mexico.

Title 42 is slated to end May 23, which means border officials will begin processing migrants encountered at the border under regular immigration law, rather than under a public health authority.

“Title 42 was never an immigration policy and it never worked as such at our southern border. It was a public health order that President Trump manipulated to further his exclusionary agenda and mainstream anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Romero and Mendez wrote.

Under Title 42, U.S. officials can immediately expel migrants encountered at the border or at ports of entry without processing them for deportation and without allowing them to exercise their right to claim asylum.

Migrant advocates have been deeply critical of the policy for a variety of reasons.

Some of those criticisms were that Title 42 did little to protect against the coronavirus contagion, that it fostered more illegality at the border by rewarding non-asylum-seekers who sought to surreptitiously cross the border and that under the policy migrants of different nationalities had wildly different outcomes for presenting at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Still, some Democrats have slammed the administration’s decision to end Title 42, fearing that an end to the policy will mean more chaos at the border and open an undefended flank to Republican attacks on migration and border security.

And some border region Democrats are pushing the administration to delay the end of Title 42, saying that’s what border communities want.

“Yes, they’re listening to the immigration activists, but my question is, who’s listening to the men and women in green and in blue, and, more importantly, who is listening to the border communities, the sheriffs, the landowners, the rest of the people who live on the border?” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told “Fox News Sunday.”

Cuellar, a right-leaning Democrat who is fighting off a progressive primary challenge from attorney Jessica Cisneros, has historically been a voice for border security within the Democratic caucus.

But Romero and Mendez criticized Democrats who embrace a rhetoric of border security versus immigrant rights.

“Instead of caving into the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Republicans, Congress should work on real immigration reform that doesn’t exploit an arcane public health authority to deny people their basic, human right to seek asylum,” they wrote.

And the two mayors painted an optimistic picture of border management where security is not at odds with proper asylum management.

“Our offices are working closely with the Biden Administration and with various community organizations on the ground to ensure that there are resources in place to execute a comprehensive plan to process asylum seekers, crack down on cartels, and establish appropriate COVID-19 protocols. We must remain steadfast in our work to provide refuge to those fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries, just as our European allies are doing with Ukrainian refugees,” Romero and Mendez wrote.

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