For the last three years, a previously obscure emergency public health order allowed politicians to temporarily sidestep one of the most complicated issues in American politics — migration at the United States’ southern border.
Former President Donald Trump invoked Title 42 in the spring of 2020 as COVID cases were spreading. And that meant that border agents could quickly process and expel migrants. But as COVID cases dipped, the rule remained in place, allowing officials to control the flow of migrants.
At 11:59 pm May 11, the policy expired.
How is the Biden administration prepared to deal with a possible influx of migrants?
The administration has rolled out a number of new policies to incentivize migrants to use legal pathways and avoid using human smugglers to enter the country illegally. It has expanded a parole program for migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, that allows up to 30,000 people from those countries entry to the U.S. each month if they apply for asylum from outside the U.S.
The Biden team has also put in place a new limit on asylum seekers: migrants who cross the border illegally will face a 5-year ban on applying for asylum in the future.
But these new policies are being litigated in the courts. A group of states led by Texas is challenging the parole program.
And the ACLU, in addition to other immigration-rights groups, has challenged the new asylum rules.
What’s next for immigration?
House Republicans passed a sweeping immigration bill called the “Secure the Border Act” this past week.
Every Democrat opposed the measure, and it’s likely to die in the Senate. The White House has already threatened to veto the bill. But it allows Republicans to show they have an alternative vision for how to deal with the situation.
Polls show voters are currently more concerned with other issues, namely the economy. But Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says if the situation at the border gets worse, that could elevate the issue in the minds of voters. “I think the challenge is when people aren’t paying very much attention, they will be unduly influenced by dramatic photos and dramatic statements,” Lake said.
For the moment, the White House insists its new rules should help manage the border in a post-Title 42 era. But Biden himself has acknowledged the months ahead hold a lot of uncertainty.
(Text Courtesy: NPR)