The controversial border policy Title 42 is ending this week, raising fresh concerns about an influx of migrants into border states while drawing cheers from immigration activists who have long said the policy is cruel and inhumane.
Leading a clamor of concern about the policy’s end are Republicans on Capitol Hill, who warned Sunday of a border crisis that is about to get worse.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) slammed President Biden and Vice President Harris on Sunday, saying they have failed to put another plan in place in lieu of Title 42.
“They’ve made promises well over their skis on Title 42, now don’t know how to get out of it,” Christie said during a discussion on ABC’s “This Week.” “And if we’re looking at 14,000 to 18,000 people cross[ing] the border a day, there’s going to be mayhem down there.”
Title 42, first implemented under the Trump administration in the spring of 2020, allowed border officials to turn away migrants seeking asylum claims under a public health emergency during the pandemic.
After months of legal challenges, a federal judge ruled last month the policy no longer made sense when vaccines were available and other pandemic restrictions were lifted. He gave the Biden administration five weeks to phase out Title 42 — a period that expires on Wednesday.
Thought Democrats have been critical of Title 42, it was used at an even higher rate under the Biden administration, and has turned away migrants about 2.5 million times at the border since 2020.
The policy has helped turn away migrants from countries experiencing worsening conditions like Haiti, making it nearly impossible for them to make asylum claims.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on Sunday said it was “past time” to end Title 42, arguing the public health emergency has changed in the U.S.
“Title 42 is not immigration policy,” he told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re in a much different place when it comes to COVID today than we were two, almost three years ago.”
The number of migrants apprehended at the border has soared under the Biden administration, with border officials encountering more than 2.76 million migrants in the last fiscal year, the largest on record.
The end of Title 42 on Wednesday is expected to initially bring around 50,000 migrants to the border, by some estimates.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday said if the policy is lifted on Wednesday as planned, there would be “total chaos” at the border.
Abbott also argued there was “every reason” to keep Title 42 in place.
“Some do come across with COVID and no one knows exactly who comes across with COVID — these people are not tested when they come across the border,” Abbott told Raddatz on ABC.
Republicans are not the only ones worried about a surge of migrants. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told ABC News this week that lifting Title 42 could “break” his state.
Padilla, who was represented California as a junior U.S. senator since 2021, acknowledged that lifting Title 42 would be a “challenge” but argued the federal government must hear asylum claims lawfully.
“It’s our obligation to consider that and make a determination,” he said.
While the policy will be lifted on Wednesday, a coalition of Republican-led states are among those challenging the lifting of Title 42.
The Republican-led states sued the Biden administration after it attempted to end Title 42 last May. That case, currently in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana, could take more than a year to be resolved.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) on Sunday said El Paso, Texas, is in the midst of a “dire situation,” noting the city has already declared a state of emergency.
“What is happening is it’s a hurricane of migrants,” Gonzales told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”