Blackburn, Tillis, Senate colleagues call on Biden to maintain Title 42

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined nine of their Republican colleagues in urging President Joe Biden against ending the Title 42 public health order, which is set to expire on May 11.

“According to the Department of Homeland Security’s own estimates, border surges in response to the termination of the Title 42 order could reach 13,000 encounters with illegal immigrants a day,” the senators wrote in a May 3 letter sent to the president. “This is untenable and will exacerbate what is already a national security and humanitarian disaster on our southern border.”

U.S. border patrol officers have used Title 42 during the last three years to turn away immigrants based on public health concerns and continue to use it to help control illegal crossings into the U.S., which nonetheless have surged to “all-time highs,” according to the senators.

They pointed out that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 2.3 million encounters on the southern border in fiscal year (FY) 2022, the most ever in a single year, according to their letter, with another 1.2 million encounters reported during the first six months of FY 2023.

“This unprecedented deluge in encounters with illegal aliens shows no signs of abating,” they wrote. “We shudder to think about how much worse the situation at the border would have been over the past three years had it not been for the deterrent effect of Title 42.”

The senators noted that since the initial order was issued in March 2020, the authority has been used 2.7 million times, including 1.5 million times in just the past 18 months, and of the 2.3 million encounters in FY 2022, one million were processed under Title 42.

The lawmakers wrote that reverting back to removal solely under Title 8 without increased enforcement would not be sufficient to gain control of the southern border.

Likewise, they criticized the Biden administration’s “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” proposed rule, which would address the outcome following the expiration of Title 42, writing that the “rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility is a weak response to the rampant and ongoing abuse of our asylum system.”   

“Nothing in this rule prevents aliens from making frivolous asylum claims,” wrote the senators. “Instead, under the terms of the rule, aliens are encouraged to schedule a time to present at a port of entry through the CBP One mobile application, after which time many, if not most, will subsequently claim asylum.”

Whether done through the CBP’s mobile app or not, “this gaming of our asylum system is a major pull factor that is causing the border crisis in the first place, and until your administration has a serious plan to address that, the authority Title 42 gives will still be necessary,” wrote the senators.

“Our border remains under assault,” they wrote. “The resources of CBP remain under tremendous strain. The introduction of 13,000 encounters every day to this crisis would be the equivalent of throwing gasoline on an already raging fire.”