Weekly Column

Apr 11 2022

Our Southern Border

By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

**Audio is not available for this week’s column**

Presidents, especially those of different parties, have a history of reversing their predecessor’s policies once they are sworn in. This is not unusual. But a president inheriting a policy with bipartisan support that has helped keep America safe for two years, and choosing to reverse it anyway? That is very unusual.

President Biden is preparing to do exactly that. He abruptly announced on April 1 that he is planning to rescind Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health order that has helped keep our country safe during the pandemic.

The Title 42 Order dates back to March 2020, when the CDC under President Trump gave U.S. Customs and Border Protection the authority to expel undocumented migrants immediately at America’s borders. The Trump and Biden administrations both used this order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and waves of illegal immigration into the United States. In February 2022 alone, border agents turned back 91,000 individuals at the southwest border under Title 42 — 55 percent of their total encounters that month.

Title 42 has been a crucial tool for border agents who already have one hand tied behind their backs. But President Biden wants to terminate it on May 23. If he goes through with this decision, he will make the crisis at the border worse. Rescinding Title 42 right now will leave our southwest border vulnerable to dangerous cartels who benefit from illegal migration and drug trafficking. And it will increase COVID-19 risks for migrants and border agents at overcrowded border facilities. 

Chaos has reigned at our southern border since the day President Biden took office. Border patrol agents have felt this burden more than anyone. The New York Times has reported that many are worried that ending Title 42 “will open a floodgate of illegal migration.” According to the Wall Street Journal, border authorities are concerned that they will be quickly overwhelmed by migrants and forced to release “people into the U.S. who would normally be jailed or deported.”

President Biden’s own officials are among those who expect a surge in illegal immigration if Title 42 comes to an end on May 23. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that attempted illegal crossings at the southwest border will skyrocket as high as 18,000 per day – more than 500,000 per month.

President Biden could not have chosen a worse time to try to end Title 42. Seasonal migration spikes are expected this spring and summer, and up to 60,000 migrants are already waiting at the border in Mexico, ready to cross into the United States the moment this order ends.

In my February 22 weekly column, I wrote about the consequences of failing to enforce our laws at the border. “Last year, agents at ports along the southern border seized 76,652 pounds of narcotics, including more than 800 pounds of fentanyl … enough to provide a lethal dose for nearly every adult in America.” These dangerous drugs are streaming across our border every day, and President Biden has done little to stem the tide.

Recently, I also joined several of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, asking him and President Biden to rethink this reckless decision. In the letter, we wrote that “rescinding Title 42 authority during a border crisis, and with knowledge of a building surge of illegal immigrants, presents a serious threat to public safety.”

Border security is national security. If the president goes through with ending Title 42 authority, he will be gravely endangering that security.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.


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