In February, President Joe Biden relinquished his emergency powers and announced the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy allowing executives to cite public health as grounds for expelling illegal immigrants at the border. He’s allowing the policy to expire on Wedneday, May 11 — and tens of thousands (or more) would-be migrants are set to pour over the border.
Now, Congress members of both parties are screaming at Biden to replace the policy, instead of simply scrapping it.
In fact, a bipartisan pair of senators just introduced their own bill for a temporary substitute to head off the looming disaster.
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Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., have been negotiating a stopgap bill since at least December, and finally introduced it this month.
Sinema, a former Democrat, slammed Biden for dragging his feet ahead of the May 11 deadline.
“Despite our repeated calls, the Biden Administration failed to plan ahead and implement a realistic, workable plan,” Sinema said in a statement. “Our legislation gives them more time to put a plan in place that will secure our border, protect Arizona communities on the frontlines of this crisis, and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely.”
She added, “Arizona border communities, law enforcement agencies, non-profits, and families are being left to manage a crisis they did not create.”
Thillis, a Republican, has echoed Sinema’s calls for Congress to act.
“The Biden Administration has failed to secure the border and the situation will get even worse once Title 42 is allowed to expire,” Thillis said. “It’s clear that Congress must immediately step in, and the bipartisan bill I’m introducing with Senator Sinema will help prevent the catastrophic fallout at the border we will soon see if no action is taken.”
The bill is being co-sponsored by Texas Republican John Cornyn and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.
The eight-page bill grants immigration officers the power to deem illegal immigrants inadmissible, and it lets them expel the migrants “without further hearing or review.”
Unlike Title 42, the new bill doesn’t depend on public health, but it would still expire after two years.
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The bill looks unlikely to pass, despite the bipartisan support. It would need 60 votes to overcome a possible filibuster in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the House is preparing its own illegal immigration bill intended as a more permanent fix.
Biden has been trying to end Title 42 since May of last year, but he’s found himself hamstrung in court.
Some Congress members have urged Biden to keep Title 42 instead of signing Sinema’s new bill.
11 Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, signed a letter urging Biden to keep the pandemic-era policy. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., went viral for comparing Title 42’s expiration to “being hit by a slow-moving truck in Kansas.”
“I’m asking them to find an acceptable substitute for Title 42,” Graham added.
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The Horn editorial team