The Biden administration has announced it will withdraw Title 42, a public health order that has allowed the U.S. to control the spread of COVID-19 in border facilities and protect U.S. communities and law enforcement agents from the virus, in a little over 50 days from now.
There is no doubt that this authority has saved countless lives over the past two years and helped preserve medical resources along the border, particularly early in the pandemic.
But, like all things immigration-related, this administration is being swayed by far-Left activists who contend this authority is detrimental to migrants seeking asylum. These are the same activists who advocated against a border wall system, the Remain in Mexico program, the Asylum Cooperative Agreements and even the removal of criminal illegal immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
Today, the administration finds itself backed into a corner. On the one hand, they are being driven to revoke Title 42, but they also know it is the only program that has kept the border crisis from morphing into a complete and catastrophic nightmare. In essence, Title 42 has masked the true extent of the actions taken by this administration and the crisis we have been living with for the past 14 months.
Once Title 42 is removed, we are likely to see two sets of activities take place. First, upwards of 90,000 individuals per month, who are now subject to immediate removal under Title 42, will likely be released into our nation’s communities. If you’ve been appalled by the mass releases of illegal immigrants on street corners and midnight flights around the country, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Second, the cartels, traffickers, and smugglers will no doubt advertise this change in policy to encourage even more illegal migration to the U.S. This will inevitably lead to a further surge of illegal apprehensions along the border — something we cannot afford.
The leadership of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is aware of these consequences. But instead of attacking the issue of illegal activity and abuse of the asylum system head-on, their approach is to simply throw more resources toward the goal of processing illegal immigrants more quickly into the U.S. That’s their definition of success — quicker processing.
In fact, they are promoting this approach through the publication of a recent fact sheet titled, “DHS Preparations for a Potential Increase in Migration.” Many, if not all, of the preparations include mobilizing additional personnel and resources to send to the border to facilitate quicker processing.
And while they briefly mention removing individuals who do not have a valid asylum claim, they immediately tout a newly released federal rule that makes it easier for asylum claims to be granted – which is likely to encourage more, not less, individuals to cross illegally.
The Biden administration should have spent the past year preparing for the consequences of removing Title 42. They should have developed alternative programs and policies that bring control, order, and legal processes back to the border.
There are many tried and tested options available to DHS to do just this. It simply takes courage, leadership, and a commitment to put the interests of the American people first.
Chad Wolf is the former acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He currently serves as executive director and chief strategy officer of the America First Policy Institute and chair for the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration.