A bipartisan group of senators will propose legislation on Thursday that would block the repeal of the Title 42 border policy unless the Biden administration presents a plan to stem a potential surge in illegal border crossings, Axios reported on Wednesday.
The bill will be introduced by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) and James Lankford (R., Ok.), and is cosponsored by four other Democrats and five Republicans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced the repeal of Title 42, a public-health measure which allows U.S. border agents to immediately expel illegal border crossers. While the implementation of the repeal is delayed until May 23, Republicans and moderate Democrats have warned that the repeal could exacerbate a migrant crisis at the southern border.
“It is evident that the current preparations and plans for the end of Title 42 aren’t adequate,” Sinema told Axios on Wednesday, revealing that she met with Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that same day. “It seems highly unlikely it will be adequate by May 23, because of poor logistics.”
Sinema’s and Lankford’s legislation would prevent the administration from lifting Title 42 until 60 days after “the Surgeon General provides written notification to the appropriate authorizing and appropriating committees of Congress” ending the national Covid health emergency. The Biden administration would be required to submit a plan to deal with a potential migrant influx within the 60-day timeframe.
The other Democrats who have cosponsored the legislation are Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Jon Tester of Montana, and Sinema’s Arizona colleague Mark Kelly. All those senators have previously warned against repealing Title 42 without a plan to replace it.
“Ending Title 42 prematurely will likely lead to a migrant surge that the administration does not appear to be ready for,” Hassan wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“It’s unacceptable to end Title 42 without a plan and coordination in place to ensure a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border,” Kelly said Friday in a statement to Fox News.
While March numbers have not yet been released, U.S. border agents encountered 164,973 migrants crossing the southern border in February, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Border agents recorded over 150,000 migrant encounters in each month of the current 2021-2022 fiscal year.