First reported by Fox News, the lawmakers state in their letter that “the Trump Administration’s policy to use 42 U.S. Code § 265 is perhaps now the only policy ensuring the southern border is not immediately rushed.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the United States last March, President Trump activated the Title 42 policy under federal code to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to immediately expel immigrants to their last country of transit.
The policy applies to both people who are prohibited under tightened travel restrictions and those who “unlawfully entered the country to bypass health screening measures.”
In effect, the vast majority of enforcement actions taken by CBP since last March has been done under the auspices of Title 42 and not Title 8, the standard immigration laws used before the pandemic.
The most recent statistics published by CBP cover the month of December 2020 and show that monthly encounters have surpassed 70,000 — the highest for that month in 20 years — with a notable increase in apprehensions of single adults coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Citing “information from sources on the ground,” the House members said that CBP has seen “the average daily flow soar up to more than 3,500 migrants, up from 2,000 earlier last month.”
“CBP has already encountered over 200,000 illegal migrants since October and numbers are rising. For context, in the first three months of fiscal year 2020, CBP encountered 128,347,” they said.
The encounters since October is also higher than the same period of Fiscal Year 2019, prior to the records of that summer, when CBP encountered 184,044 illegal immigrants.
In the letter to Biden, the lawmakers noted the executive order that the president signed last week which instructed administration officials to “promptly begin taking steps to reinstate the safe and orderly reception and processing of arriving asylum seekers, consistent with public health and safety and capacity constraints.”
The Biden administration has not indicated when it will end the expulsion policy under Title 42, but the order is an indication that a change to the policy is on the table.
“If title 42 is indeed rescinded, the daily illegal flow will become catastrophic overnight,” said the lawmakers.
The MPP was another Trump administration policy that permitted CBP officials to immediately return illegal immigrants to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings.
Biden’s administration suspended new enrollments in the program immediately after his inauguration and in the same executive order instructing officials to evaluate receiving new asylum seekers, he also ordered a prompt review to decide whether to “terminate or modify the program.”
“The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years,” said the White House. “But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values.”
Members of the Texas delegation who signed the letter include Reps. Michael Cloud (R-TX-27), Pete Sessions (R-TX-17), Brian Babin (R-TX-36), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02), Michael Burgess (R-TX-26), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), August Pfluger (R-TX-11), Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24), and Lance Gooden (R-TX-05).
The lawmakers requested the president to instruct Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to “provide immediate briefings to all members of the U.S. House” on the surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.
“This is not a political game — we implore you not let ideology blind your Administration to the need to secure the border, to defend Americans, and to prevent another cartel-empowering humanitarian crisis,” they concluded.