Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is leading a charge in the Senate by introducing a bill Tuesday to preserve Title 42, a Trump-era public health order that authorizes prompt expulsion of illegal immigrants across the southern border to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid reports of President Biden “abruptly and dangerously abolishing” the policy.
“Title 42 has been an integral and extremely successful measure to protect America’s borders and our people during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cruz said. “If the Biden-Harris policy for open borders is intended to reverse the Trump Administration’s success in securing our border, encourage illegal immigration, and create an unprecedented crisis, it’s certainly working.”
“As we come out of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we need to continue securing our borders, not throwing open flood gates to people who could carry the deadly virus or its dangerous new variants,” Cruz added.
Dubbed The SHIELD Act or “Securing the Homeland from International Entrants with Life-threatening Diseases Act,” the bill would prevent President Biden, who is reportedly considering ending the use of the Title 42 expulsion order at the end of the month. The bill would “codify” the order to give border officials the ability to immediately turn away people attempting to enter the country and spread the coronavirus or the potential new variants.
The Senate measure is co-sponsored by GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-M0), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN). Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) is introducing the companion bill in the House.
Title 42, a public health order established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and was implemented by the Trump administration back in March 2020. The policy allowed Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials to expel migrants encountered at the U.S-Mexico border instead of holding them in detention facilities to avoid the spread of the virus.
Democrat lawmakers and immigration activists have sharply criticized the Trump-era public health order and have ramped up pressure on Biden to end the policy, claiming that the policy was a “war on immigration, not about health or safety.” According to Axios’ report last month, the Biden administration was in “negotiations” with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on ending Title 42. The Biden administration, in exchange, wants the ACLU to end their lawsuit over the policy, arguing that the Justice Department would be forced to defend the Trump-era policy in court, which could result in sensitive information being released during the litigation and would be seen as “contradictory to Biden’s commitment to asylum.”
Biden has been briefed on his administration plan to stop family expulsions as early as July 31 and is considering ending the Title 42 expulsion program as early as the end of July, as part of its gradual unraveling many of former President Donald Trump border policies, including ending the construction of southern border wall and immediately suspending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy as an effort to curb the flow of migrants to the southern border.
Republicans have been critical of Biden’s handling of the crisis, arguing his decision to loosen immigration restrictions has exacerbated the situation and created unsafe conditions at the border. In an interview with Fox News Tuesday morning, Cruz noted how the Biden administration is about to make a “serious mistake” in ending Title 42 by “putting politics ahead of public safety and public health.”
“We’re hearing concerning reports that the Biden administration intends to end enforcement under Title 42. That’s the legal authority that allows you with illegal immigrants when they come to expel them quickly because of the pandemic, and the Biden administration is making noise; they want to end that. I have introduced legislation this week to maintain the protections of Title 42,” Cruz said on Fox News ‘America’s Newsroom.’
“We have seen the disaster of Joe Biden’s open border policy putting a huge cost on my home state of Texas, and now these guys want to make it worse and release essentially everybody who comes. Title 42 has been having an effect with regards to single young men who may be COVID-positive, and if the Biden administration releases them as well, it would be putting politics ahead of public safety and public health. I think it would be a serious mistake,” Cruz added.
Although the order has resulted in tens of thousands of migrant family members being sent away, the Department of Homeland Security has set up a system last month to begin exempting “vulnerable individuals who warrant humanitarian exceptions.” Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered 180,034 migrants attempting to cross the southern border in May, reaching another new highest one-month record total in over two decades.
Over 62 percent of all May encounters — 112,302 of the 121,000 single adults were expelled under Title 42 expulsion. Based on the last four months of recorded CBP data, migrant adults have been expelled more than 350,000 times under Title 42. According to CBP data, over 400,635 migrants have been expelled under the order since February 2020.