Eighteen more states have joined the lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration to stop it from lifting the Title 42 health order for the southern border. Originally filed by the states of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri, the case has now been amended to add the other states, bringing the total to 21.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement that ending Title 42 would be a disaster and would further the chaos at the southwest border, making it easier for drug cartels and human smugglers to advance their illicit activities in the United States.
She also said it would be “reckless” for the Biden administration to lift the order.
Title 42 is a controversial policy that allows Customs and Border Protection to turn migrants away without allowing them to file for asylum. It was set to end on May 23, but a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on April 14 that would block its lifting.
Senators from both Democrat and Republican parties have expressed their concerns about ending the policy before the Department of Homeland Security is ready to deal with the expected surge of migrants that will follow.
Republicans are strongly opposed to the lifting, saying that the move is irresponsible. Others also said it will turn what is already a crisis on the border into a catastrophe.
Title 42 is a public health law that allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop people and property from entering the U.S. in the interest of public health, especially when there is an existence of any communicable disease in a foreign country and there is a danger of the introduction of such disease into the United States. While it is regularly discussed in the context of COVID-19, it has also been on the books for decades.
Currently, the government is using Title 42 on the U.S.-Mexico border to turn migrants away without allowing them to apply for asylum, regardless of their country of origin or their reason for traveling. In February, 55 percent of over 164,000 migrants at the border were expelled under the order.
Republicans, Democrats oppose lifting of Title 42
Some Democrats are also opposed to the lifting of Title 42. Senator Krysten Sinema of Arizona has led a bipartisan group in proposing legislation to prevent the title from being lifted without a plan in place to stop an expected surge of migrants at the border, calling for the administration to extend the order.
“‘The administration’s extension of public health emergency authorities proves the need to delay lifting Title 42 to protect the health and safety of Arizona communities and migrants. I’ll keep pushing for transparency and accountability from the administration to help secure the border, keep Arizona communities safe and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” she said.
Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire visited the border to see the situation for herself and promptly called for the administration to extend the order.
She said that her trip reinforced her concerns about the administration preemptively ending the title, adding that “border agents were very clear with me that the end of Title 42 will lead to a steep increase of attempted crossings that they will not be able to effectively handle because they don’t have enough resources.”
The issue with Title 42 also caused Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) funding delays when Republican senators demanded to hold a vote on an amendment that would keep Title 42 restrictions in place as part of a $10 billion funding bill that Biden wanted to pass.
Republicans prevented the measure from moving forward in the legislative process with every GOP senator voting against it in early April.
“There’ll have to be an amendment on Title 42 in order to move the bill. We’ll need to enter into some kind of agreement to process these amendments in order to go forward with the bill,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said.
The White House, however, slammed the Republicans for stopping the legislation. “It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down consideration of a much-needed bill to purchase vaccines, boosters, and life-saving treatments for the American people,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a statement.