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Thousands line up at border to wait for Biden’s policy change

By Sarah May on
 May 7, 2023

The imminent end of pandemic-era rules facilitating rapid expulsion of migrants has prompted hundreds, if not thousands of individuals to amass at the southern border, awaiting what they believe is their best chance at entry into the United States, and the Biden administration is facing calls to take action to stem the potentially unmanageable tide, as the Daily Mail reports.

Though the White House has decided to dispatch another 1,500 troops on top of the 2,500 currently present to address the growing crisis, critics believe the end of Title 42 will make an already bad situation far worse.

Sounding the Alarm

As Fox News reports, a group of Republican senators recently wrote to Biden and strongly urged him to reconsider his administration's stance on ending Title 42 rules, given the massive, anticipated uptick in arrivals to communities that are already overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants.

“We write today to implore you to reverse your decision to end the Title 42 public health order, set to expire on May 11,” the lawmakers began.

The legislators, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), continued, “According to the Department of Homeland Security's own estimates, border surges in response to the termination of the Title 42 order could reach 13,000 encounters with illegal immigrants a day.”

“This is untenable and will exacerbate what is already a national security and humanitarian disaster on our southern border,” the group – which included Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), Chuck Grassley (IA), John Cornyn (TX), Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Tom Cotton (AR), John Kennedy (LA), Thom Tillis (NC), Mike Lee (UT) and Marsha Blackburn (TN) – continued.

Too Little, Too Late?

The Biden administration has taken some steps in apparent preparation for a migrant surge following the end of Title 42, and those include warning prospective arrivals that their chances of remaining in the U.S. are not greater than before, expanding legal pathways to entry, and implementing a scheme whereby illegal arrivals would be deemed ineligible for asylum if they did not make such a claim in another country through which they passed, as Fox News noted.

Those moves, according to Republicans, are a day late and a dollar short in terms of their potential impact on the deluge they believe is about to occur.

GOP lawmakers argue that “without increased enforcement” the efforts to address the situation “will be insufficient to gain control of the southern border.”

Further, the Republicans suggest, “A rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility is a weak response to the rampant and ongoing abuse of our asylum system. Nothing in this rule prevents aliens from making frivolous asylum claims.”

Sinema, Tillis Enter Fray

As CBS News reports, a number of senators, led by Tillis and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), brought forth a bill on Thursday designed to permit continued expulsion of migrants without court hearings beyond the May 11 expiration of Title 42, for a period of two additional years.

Tillis explained that the action was being taken due to doubts about the Biden administration's preparations for the expected onslaught of arrivals, stating that the proposal “will help prevent the catastrophic fallout at the border we will soon see if no action is taken.”

In Sinema's estimation, the move is necessary because the White House ignored the need to “plan ahead and implement a realistic, workable plan” to tackle the processing of migrants following the end of Title 42.

Department of Homeland Security (HHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, for his part, does not support the aforementioned legislation, as NBC News notes, arguing that Title 42 is “not an immigration set of rules” and suggesting that its disappearance is not something he finds concerning, given the other strategies being employed by the administration.

Dire Predictions Abound

Mayorkas' optimism aside, a number of other prominent voices are predicting extremely serious fallout from the lifting of Title 42, with Ken Cuccinelli, who served as deputy HHS secretary in the Trump administration, contending that the likely influx is akin to “an invasion,” as the Mail noted.

Cucinelli opined, “A good chunk of the southern hemisphere is lining up at the border. They are going to dash into the country” and lamented, “[t]his administration doesn't care.”

Cornyn echoed those sentiments, stating, “I'm afraid that we're going to see what has been a flood of humanity coming across the border turn into a tsunami.”

A senior U.S. Border Patrol agent in West Texas described his concerns about the end of Title 42 late last year, saying “Title 42 was a cracked dam: We all know that when it breaks, a huge flood is coming. The flood of people coming in at once will cripple our already broken immigration system.” The country will see for itself in the coming days and weeks whether or not those words prove prescient.