President Joe Biden's plan to do away with Title 42 border protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic is unpopular with Republicans and now 10 Democrats are joining in the opposition.
Nine Senate Democrats and a Democratic Texas representative are urging Biden to not end the policy protecting the border by May 23, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.
- Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.
- Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.
- Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.
- Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
- Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.
- Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
- Sen. Joe Manchin, W.Va.
- Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
- Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.
"Unless we have a well-thought-out plan, I think it is something that should be revisited and perhaps delayed," Peters told the Examiner. "I'm going to defer judgment on that until I give the administration opportunity to fully articulate what that plan is."
Title 42 is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention border security policy permitting border authorities to turn away illegal border crossers and those seeking asylum unilaterally due to the health risks amid the pandemic. It was started under former President Donald Trump.
The direct contrast of positions sets up a midterm election issue, and one Morning Consult/Politico poll has a majority backing Republicans, as a 56% majority opposes Biden ending the border policy.
"Arizona communities bear the brunt of the federal government's failure at our border, so we're stepping in and protecting border communities by ensuring the administration works hand-in-hand with local leaders, law enforcement, and nonprofits to put a comprehensive, workable plan in place before lifting Title 42," Sinema, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Border Management, wrote in a statement.
It has been estimated as many as 18,000 per day will no longer be turned away at the border without Title 42 in place, according to the report.
"Title 42 has been an essential tool in combating the spread of COVID-19 and controlling the influx of migrants at our southern border," Manchin, perhaps the most vocal moderate Senate Democrat, wrote in a statement. "We are already facing an unprecedented increase in migrants this year, and that will only get worse if the administration ends the Title 42 policy."
Coons told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday the pandemic is not over to the point protections should be lifted.
"The CDC declared that they could no longer justify this ongoing practice of expelling folks who come to our border based on the pandemic," Coons said. "In the region where I'm from, we're seeing infections rise. I think Philadelphia, for example, just returned to a mask mandate. So my hope is that that will be reconsidered appropriately.
"I know that there are both Republicans and Democrats calling for a reconsideration, and the administration just announced a plan for how to deal with a possible surge in crossings at the border."
Among the Democrats in opposition, they are largely in border states or political battlegrounds, including Cortez Masto's Nevada.
"This is the wrong way to do this and it will leave the administration unprepared for a surge at the border," Cortez Masto said in a statement. "We should be working to fix our immigration system by investing in border security and treating immigrant families with dignity. Instead, the administration is acting without a detailed plan."
Manchin, Hassan, and Tester have introduced legislation to block the ending of Title 42.
"Ending Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in place to handle the flow of migrants will put additional strain on federal and local law enforcement and negatively impact the situation at the southern border," Tester wrote in a statement. "I'm also going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that we address staffing shortages at Customs and Border Patrol and to ensure that agents from the northern border won't be frequently reassigned to handle any influx of migrants caused by the change in policy."
Cuellar has a mirror bill in the House, which does have support from five other House Democrats: Reps. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz.; Jared Golden, D-Maine; Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.; Chris Pappas, D-N.H.; and Greg Stanton, D-Ariz.
"Some of us are standing up and saying this is the right thing to do for the border," Cuellar said earlier this month. "We all believe in immigration reform, but we don't want chaos at the border. We want law and order at the border."
If Democrats do not "do the right thing," Cuellar added, the party is going to "be hit hard" in the November midterms.
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