‘We don’t want pandemonium at the border,’ Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, has joined a bipartisan House bill that would prevent President Biden from relaxing existing Title 42 immigration limitations without a strategy in place to deal with the predicted influx of migrants at the southern border. Cuellar joins Democratic colleagues Jared Golden of Maine, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Greg Stanton of Arizona, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, and Tom O’Halleran of Arizona in claiming that the Biden administration is unprepared for the massive increase in border crossings expected when Title 42 expulsions end on May 23.
“Title 42 should not be lifted,” Cuellar said in an interview with Fox News Digital, revealing that he signed the bill when it was first proposed. He predicted that if Democrats “don’t stand up and do the right thing,” Republicans will “strike them hard” in the 2017 midterm elections. “However, some of us are standing up and saying that this is the correct thing to do for the border,” Cuellar said of maintaining Title 42. “We all want immigration reform, but we don’t want a border crisis. At the border, we want law and order.”
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The House bill is identical to bipartisan Senate legislation presented this week by Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Jon Tester (D-Mont. ), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire). The bill would extend Title 42 for an additional 60 days and force the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to present a plan to Congress within 30 days on how they would deal with the projected influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the Title 42 order in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, and it has been utilized by both the Trump and Biden administrations to promptly deport a majority of migrants at the border. Last week, the CDC announced that the order will be lifted on May 23, prompting worries on both sides of the aisle, even inside the Biden administration, that it would lead to an increase in migration, on top of the already large numbers seen by Border Patrol each day. In a statement, Golden stated, “The Biden Administration is not now prepared for a major surge in border crossings.”
“Removing Title 42 authority without a strategy in place to deal with the subsequent flow of migrants is reckless, and it risks creating a crisis that would be detrimental for both migrants and Americans.” Cuellar claimed he spoke with White House officials twice to persuade them not to lift the public health order. He is afraid that eliminating Title 42 will send the message to criminal groups that “the border is open,” resulting in thousands more individuals crossing the border at a time when border officials are already overburdened.
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Cuellar told Fox News Digital that the White House is sending “contradictory” messages by asking Congress for billions more in COVID-19 relief money to battle the virus within the country while simultaneously stating “there is no pandemic here at the border.” “When you say, “Hey, we need additional support for our restaurants,” you’re sending inconsistent messages. We require further assistance in order to purchase additional immunizations. However, Title 42, which is a public health law, will be lifted (order). It wasn’t a Trump directive. It’s a medical order… You claim that the border is open. That, in my judgment, is impossible to reconcile.” The House of Representatives authorized $55 billion in COVID-19 help to restaurants and other hard-hit companies on Thursday.
The Senate was about to approve $10 billion in COVID-19 relief for treatments, vaccinations, and other purposes, but the plan was halted last week when Republicans demanded an amendment that would bar Biden from phasing down Title 42. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on Friday that the public health order will be lifted in May, and that migrants will be free to apply for asylum at the border. “Our asylum rules state that if you meet the criteria, you may apply for residence in the United States,” Mayorkas explained.
“And if one doesn’t, one can be kicked out.” We’ve been exercising Title 42 throughout the epidemic,” he said Friday. “Title 42 will conclude on May 23, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated, and then we’ll be operating our asylum procedure as it was meant,” he added. In response, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that he would transfer the migrants to Washington, D.C., using charter buses and aircraft, bringing the catastrophe to Biden’s doorstep. He also ordered that trucks entering Texas from Mexico be inspected. Cueller said he understands Abbott’s annoyance, but he doesn’t agree with his approach.
He questioned Abbott’s “legal basis” for transporting migrants to Washington, D.C., and expressed concern that delaying trucks entering the United States for exterior inspections could cause major delays and disrupt the supply chain, particularly for auto parts needed at plants in Detroit and elsewhere. “I truly hope he doesn’t block or delay those trucks,” Cuellar added, adding that Mexico may react with its own truck inspections. He stated, “That would not be beneficial for our economy or their economy.” Reps. Tony Gonzales of Texas, August Pfluger of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Don Bacon of Nebraska, and Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida are Republicans on the bipartisan House bill.
Other Democrats who aren’t officially sponsoring the bill have also expressed concern about the revocation of the Title 42 order. Vicente Gonzalez, a fellow Texas Democrat, warned in a statement that “we will once again be completely unprepared to handle a spike of irregular migration at our Southern Border in a compassionate, safe, and orderly manner” until the Biden administration delivers a strategy and resources.