Sen. Ted Cruz and several other prominent Republican senators planned to introduce a bill Tuesday that would extend a health safety policy allowing border patrol agents to expel migrants due to COVID-19.
The "Securing the Homeland from International Entrants with Life-threatening Diseases Act," or SHIELD Act, would extend Title 42 public health protections first enacted under former President Donald Trump in March 2020.
The Biden administration, encouraged by critics who say Title 42 is inhumane, has considered ending the policy — something Axios reported could happen by July 31.
White House officials told Axios that not enforcing Title 42 for families could lead to more migrants coming to the southern border, and could intensify pressure to end the policy for single adults.
"Title 42 has been an integral and extremely successful measure to protect America’s borders and our people during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Cruz, a Texas Republican, according to Fox News.
"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."
Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., co-sponsored the bill.
Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., will introduce a similar bill in the House, according to Fox News.
Republicans have blamed Biden for the surge of migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border since he took office. The president has loosened Trump policies, including "Remain in Mexico," by which migrants were returned to Mexico until their court dates in the U.S.
"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 said.
In May, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered 180,034 migrants — compared to 23,237 the same month in 2020 — trying to cross the southern border, with 110,400 returned to Mexico under Title 42.
Former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Thomas Homan last week warned of "catastrophic" consequences if Biden overturns the provision, Fox News said.
Axios reported administration officials have found it harder to defend Title 42 as U.S. vaccination rates climb, and death and infection numbers drop.
"[It's] a public health decision that will be made ultimately on those grounds," a White House official told Axios last month. The official added the administration would not get ahead of any Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determinations.
Late last month, The New York Times reported some migrants rejected for asylum under the "Remain in Mexico" policy will have their cases reconsidered by the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS said the move to reconsider cases was "part of our continued effort to restore safe, orderly, and humane processing at the southwest border," the Times reported.
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