Extending title 42 is the least we can do

By U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer

Washington, DC – The crisis on our southern border is unfortunately not new. Since January 2021, illegal immigrants have been flooding our country’s borders due to a new administration bringing new immigration policies.

These open border policies led to a record number of illegal border crossings last year, which only got worse in 2022. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers meet more than 7 000 people a day and 221,303 migrants in March alone. Although some of these people of course try to go through the proper channels to enter this country legally, many do not.

Drug cartels make billions of dollars by bringing deadly drugs and criminals into our country. Although we are not a border state, the speed at which drugs flow through the United States has effectively transformed communities far away from Mexico into border states.

Drugs – especially the deadly fentanyl – criminals, human traffickers and illegal weapons are flooding our borders. There is enough danger in our world, from the situation in Afghanistan this summer to the tragic war in Ukraine that continues to rage.

America should not face another battle here at home simply because of this administration’s weak policies and inaction on our southern border.

Unfortunately, this is where we are and it is possible that the problem will get worse very soon.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates the worst is yet to come if Title 42 is lifted on May 23, with daily encounters of up to 18,000 migrants.

Title 42 is actually a health policy established in March 2020 by the CDC to prevent migrants who potentially exhibited symptoms of COVID from crossing our borders. This gave CBP officers increased authority to turn back migrants who attempted to enter our country illegally.

During the last administration it proved to be an extremely effective policy in dealing with the overwhelming numbers on our southern border and has subsequently been extended several times.

Now the Biden administration says Title 42 is no longer needed, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas saying this week that “we effectively managed the border.” The numbers continue to show this to be empirically false, and if this critical policy is lifted, our Border Patrol agents will be even more overwhelmed than they already are.

There is bipartisan support for keeping Title 42 in place. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have urged the White House to change its position. This week, a federal judge in Louisiana issued an order to temporarily stop the administration from lifting Title 42, which could slow or halt the administration’s efforts. But so far, the administration has shown no willingness to let the program continue.

This week, 22-year-old Texas National Guard specialist Bishop Evans lost his life trying to save two migrants – who were later identified as suspected drug traffickers – from drowning as they were on duty. This story is as heartbreaking as it is infuriating.

It is absolutely essential that we give these officers who risk their lives every day the tools they need to do their job effectively and return home safely. Expanding Title 42 is the least we can do as we work towards that goal.