WASHINGTON – With the expiration of Title 42 this month, moderate Democrats are imploring the White House to adopt stricter border policies ahead of President Biden’s possible re-election campaign.
“Do they have the tools? Yes. Do they have the will? I don’t know. But certainly the tools are there,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, a leading moderate and critic of the administration’s border policies, told Fox News.
Citing the pandemic, Title 42 refers to an authority in federal health law that the government has used to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants at the southern U.S. border. A federal judge has ordered border agents to stop using Title 42 on Dec. 21. The administration is reportedly considering “drastic measures,” including expelling more migrants at the border and increasing prosecutions for crossing illegally, according to Axios.
“The Republicans, whoever runs against the president, is going to use open borders, etc., etc., the way they used that against some Democrats,” said Cuellar. “I think he still has time to start really addressing the border in a compassionate way. But at the end of the day, you got to enforce the law.”
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In a Fox News poll conducted less than a month from November’s midterm elections, Republicans held a 21-point advantage on border security over Democrats – the largest GOP advantage on any issue in the survey. The Fox News Voter Analysis found immigration voters favored the GOP candidate in their House districts over the Democratic candidate by 78 percentage points.
Several Senate Democrats are also calling for stronger enforcement at the border. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire wrote to the Department of Homeland Security asking for “answers on how the administration plans to ensure operational control of the border.”
“Record annual encounters have led to untenable situations. In Arizona, shelters have been forced well beyond capacity. This month, El Paso has seen over 700 migrants released directly onto city streets due to overcrowding’” they wrote. “This is not safe, and creates a dangerous situation for migrants and communities.”
Last fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection agents encountered more than 2.7 million migrants at the southern border. That’s a record.
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Still, the White House has faced strong resistance from immigrant-rights groups warning officials against maintaining any policy that even resembles Title 42.
“If the Biden administration thinks they can simply substitute Title 42 for a different unlawful Trump-era transit ban on asylum seekers, they’re sorely mistaken – and we’ll see them in court if they try,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union.
An administration official contended, “As was the case before Title 42 went into effect and will remain the case after it, individuals encountered at the border and without a legal basis to remain in the United States will be subject to prompt removal.”
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“It’s a sign that the political reality has finally hit the Biden administration, that some of the more successful Democratic candidates, frankly, were ones like Congressman Henry Cuellar or Sen. Mark Kelly, who were adamant about their criticism of how the Biden administration has handled border security over the last two years,” said Josh Kraushaar, Axios’ senior political correspondent, about the administration considering stricter border policies.
In two years, Americans will vote to fill 33 seats in the U.S. Senate. Democrats will defend 23 of them, including Sens. Sinema and Tester.
“This is a necessity, not just because of the substance of the issue, but because Republicans are well-positioned to take the Senate if the Democrats don’t moderate on a whole host of issues,” said Kraushaar.