The time many have feared has finally arrived. President Joe Biden, in concert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that Title 42 is coming to an end.
This decision sets the stage for the worsening of the existing border crisis and will lay bare the broken nature of our immigration system for the whole world to see.
Title 42 is a public health order that the CDC first instituted under the Trump administration in March 2020, during the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a sentence, Title 42 allows border officials to expel migrants — including asylum-seekers — back into Mexico in the interest of preventing the spread of the virus. Border officials cited Title 42 in expelling about half of all illegal aliens at the border during its implementation.
For reference, since President Biden tool office in January 2021, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) logged more than 2 million encounters at the southwest border. Were it not for Title 42, almost all of those individuals would be in the United States, making meritless asylum claims and growing the backlog. Throughout the duration of their court case, these aliens receive work permits and situate themselves throughout the country. When many of them lose their asylum cases, they stay put. They already have what they wanted in the first place — a ticket into the United States, future legal status notwithstanding.
Upon taking office, President Biden moved to eliminate almost all of his predecessor’s immigration executive actions that ended the 2019 border crisis. He ended the asylum agreements that President Trump struck with the northern triangle countries. He moved to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which made asylum-seeking aliens wait in Mexico throughout the duration of their asylum hearings and discouraged illegal immigration. While a court ruling forced the administration to reinstate the program, they continue challenging it in court and have dragged their feet on its reimplementation.
Then, the administration issued new enforcement guidance for the interior of the country which made it all but impossible to deport all but a handful of illegal aliens. So even if asylum-seeking aliens lose their cases and remain in the country without legal status, there is no real threat that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could even deport them.
This led to a new crisis that made the old numbers look miniscule. The final thread holding the system together was the continued implementation of Title 42. Even as the encounters grew at the border, Title 42 managed to keep the broken system chugging along.
Now that Biden has cut that thread, there is nothing stopping a full-blown disaster from occurring at our southern border. Biden has not only blown down the doors at the southern border, he’s taking apart the foundation of the entire apparatus.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials warned that the U.S. could see one million arrivals within six weeks. A source told Fox Business that “there is no way we have enough federal agents and NGOs and NGAs. There’s not enough people going around. It’s literally going to be a revolving door. Getting people in, getting people out.”
Even worse, the administration plans to rob Americans of resources dedicated to veterans to assist with the fallout at the border. The same source indicated that the administration plans to pull medical personnel from Veterans Affairs and move them to the border. The source said that “we’re going to take medical services away from people that really deserve that. [People] who went to combat…to give free medical attention to illegal migrants.”
That in itself is outrageous. It reflects another casualty of Biden’s immigration policy, or lack thereof. Moving medical personnel away from the VA to assist with illegal aliens at the border is an idea that would be unthinkable under the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. Yet the current administration plans to pursue it.
Every aspect of our immigration system is broken. Loopholes in our laws incentivize millions of people to present themselves at the border. Our overwhelmed personnel have no choice but to follow the machinations of political appointees determined to let in as many migrants as possible, regardless of the cost to American communities.
We have not even witnessed the worst of it yet. We are not even close to rock bottom at the border. But thanks to Biden’s decision to lift Title 42 without putting any offsetting measures in place, we will see it — and the results will be catastrophic.
Preston Huennekens is the government relations manager at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)