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Despite the gradual approach, the surge in migrants poses a major challenge for the administration in how to handle their arrival – keep them in detention or release them pending trial, which with a long backlog of cases can take years. And Republicans plan to highlight any surge in migrants or delays in processing in campaign ads, mailers, and debates at races across the country as part of a long-planned strategy to use immigration to try to win Congress in the midterm elections recapture next year.
“The government is repeating the mistakes of 2015 by underestimating the power of an argument for border security,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an immigration advocate. “And as a result, they run the risk of losing the moderate voters who said, ‘You know what, I want a more rational approach to immigration, but one that keeps us safe.'”
According to a new poll by the National Republican Senate Committee and the Republican Governors Association, 53 percent of voters say they are less likely to support Democrats for Congress due to the increase in migrants at the border. 23 percent say they are more likely.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Emma Vaughn described the expected repeal of Title 42 as “dangerous” after other border policies have already contributed to an increase in the number of migrants along the border.
“As Republicans move forward at the local, state and federal levels to lead our nation through this growing crisis, Americans are taking note – voters across the country have rejected Biden’s failed leadership at the border,” she said.
Immigrant lawyers and public health experts have been saying for months that the policy surrounding Title 42 repeal is irrelevant: the application of the order is illegal, inhuman and unjustified by public health.
“If the Biden government believes there is any other reason for denying asylum seekers the right to be heard, it must be relied on. But they cannot use Title 42 as a pretext to regulate migratory flows, ”said Lee Gelernt, assistant director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
“This is a political position, not a legal position,” said Gelernt, the lead attorney on the ACLU’s case, which questions the legality of the US’s use of Title 42 to evict families.
But Democrats concede that the policy surrounding the likely move is tricky at best.
A former Obama immigration officer close to the Biden administration admitted that Biden is vulnerable at the border. “His immigration numbers are low, there is no doubt about that,” the person said. But in order for it to drag his general approval rating down, the removal of Title 42 would have to lead to “visual chaos on the border”.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who has criticized the Biden government’s immigration policies, said he looks forward to lifting the border closure for non-essential travel that has crippled tourist-used cities along the Mexican and Canadian borders, but know that there will be great challenges in removing Title 42.
The repeal of the rule will “provide another incentive and the drug cartels will start saying” [to potential migrants]: ‘Hey, you can come in,’ ”Cuellar said, adding that border guards and law enforcement at the border have told him they expect an early lift and are ready to face a new onslaught of migrants seeking asylum.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” said the Texas border democrat.
Biden has vowed to create a fair and humane immigration system, but his staff have found that a quick reversal of Trump’s policies can create logistical – and political – problems. Record numbers of unaccompanied children at the border generated tremendous attention to immigration at the beginning of his presidency. In recent weeks, however, the border has been overshadowed by other issues, including Biden’s spending plans and voting restriction laws enforced in several states.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Title 42 other than saying the administration is working to rebuild the shabby asylum system and treat certain groups of people, including those in Mexico who are on hearing their cases in one Separate proceedings had to wait for Trump-era politics.
The Department of Homeland Security referred questions about Title 42 to comments made by Minister Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week. In an interview with CBS, Mayorkas reiterated that Title 42 is “not an immigration policy” and its use is determined by the Centers for Disease Control.
“It is driven by what is in the best public health interests of the American people,” Mayorkas said.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, border officials have expelled migrants using Title 42 more than 867,000 times since March 2020. However, immigration experts have made it clear that the number 867,000 are not necessarily individual migrants; There is a high relapse rate when migrants are expelled and then attempt to re-enter the US
In May, according to the latest statistics available, more than 180,000 migrants were arrested along the border and 112,302 were expelled from Title 42, according to the CBP. Of these, 38 percent were people who had already tried to cross the limit at least once in the past 12 months. The average one-year re-encounter rate for fiscal 2014 through 2019 was 15 percent, CBP said.
Earlier this year, the Biden government had grown louder in its discussions about immigration – it held regular media calls to discuss the increase in the number of migrants arriving at the border. For example, in early April the White House organized a media call with administrative officials to discuss CBP’s monthly release of arrest numbers. Since then, CBP has released the April and May concern numbers in the late afternoon without a press call to provide the details.
However, Republicans have been careful to highlight the monthly topline numbers without mentioning that the majority of arrested migrants are expelled quickly following the Trump-era order. And looking ahead to 2022, they are likely to make an even bigger push once Biden lifts the order, according to interviews with more than half a dozen political activists involved in mid-term elections.
“If Biden and Harris completely lift the highly effective restrictions on Title 42, which have become much less effective since they took office, then expect a tsunami of illegal migrants and perhaps the worst of the summer heat,” said Steve Cortes. a former Trump campaign aide close to the former president. “It could be a lot worse than it is now.”
In the past few weeks Republicans have stepped up their attacks, traveling to the border, writing letters and calling for an investigation. The RNC bought a mobile billboard on the occasion of Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to the border last week to highlight the increase in migrants. The NRSC has so far run one of its few advertisements against Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Arguing that his votes are inconsistent with his harsh speeches against Biden’s immigration policy. And the National Republican Congressional Committee has targeted a trio of House Democrats in border states, Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez from Texas and Tom O’Halleran from Arizona.
Republicans say they have had some success already – assuming immigration played a role in the swap of the mayor’s seat in Hidalgo County, home of McAllen – and they are backed by new polls that show Biden receives some of the worst grades on the subject.
Trump first cited the little-known and far-reaching Title 42 bill in March 2020, which ordered federal officials to expel migrants who have crossed the northern and southern borders instead of arresting and processing them – an effort that is meant to be aimed at to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in holding facilities.
Biden continues to turn away most of the migrants encountered at the border, including single adults and most families, but has made exceptions for unaccompanied children on humanitarian grounds.
Democratic lawmakers and public health experts have urged the government to repeal the policy, arguing that migrants could be tested and isolated upon entering the country to stop the spread of Covid-19. Even proponents of immigrants who support Biden accuse the administration of continuing to use Title 42 to restrict immigration, an indictment the administration denies.
The Biden government is also considering whether or not to take a phased approach as there is no public health justification for accepting families and not single adults.
“There is no reason for public health to differentiate between single adults and families,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of the refugee protection program at Human Rights First.
Removing Title 42 for families and keeping it longer for single adults, Acer said, would disproportionately affect African asylum seekers, many of whom do not travel with their families due to the great distances from their home countries, and LGBTQ asylum seekers who may traveling alone or with people who are not recognized as their family by the Department of Homeland Security.
In the end, Acer said proponents support the government’s discussions on improving the immigration system, but that doesn’t mean they can keep Title 42 while they figure it out.
“Yes, they want to improve the asylum system further,” she said. “But you can’t just stop maintaining our existing laws because you want to make some systems stronger and better staff them and get them up and running quickly.”