Tucson Mayor Regina Romero calls for an end to Title 42 as debate over protocol continues
This week, a federal judge in Louisiana announced he intends to grant a motion that could push back the Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42 on May 23. That’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order that restricts the legal right to seek asylum at the border, because of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the CDC announced it was terminating Title 42 because it's no longer necessary on public health grounds. On Monday, Trump-appointed Judge Robert Summerhays said he'll grant a preliminary injunction that would temporarily block the administration from ending the policy. The hearing was part of a suit, mounted by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and other Republican attorneys general, that argues the protocol needs to stay in place to prevent "an unprecedented crisis" at the border.
But as Tucson Mayor Regina Romero points out, the policy has already created a backlog by restricting asylum.
"Has it [Title 42] created a bottleneck on our southern border? Absolutely it has, but we cannot use a public health order as an immigration tool."
Romero says instead of fighting to keep Title 42 in place, Congress should address long-standing issues in the U.S. immigration system, and allocate resources to border communities that will respond to an expected increase in migrants. She and Brownsville Texas mayor Trey Mendez issued a statement this week in favor of ending Title 42.
She says Tucson and Pima County have effectively helped asylum seekers in the past and with the right resources, they’re ready to do it again. She says her office is in contact with the Department of Homeland Security, local nonprofits, Border Patrol and others working with migrants.
Many Republicans and a number of Democrats have come out in opposition to the ending the protocol, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, who are part of a bipartisan bill to delay the termination date on the grounds that more planning is needed.
Romero says those arguments ignore the realities of Title 42.
"I do not think that doing nothing is a decision, because we have a legal obligation to act," she said. "We are a democracy, democracies don't get to pick and choose when to support human rights."
DHS issues a memo Tuesday outlining a more detailed post-Title 42 plan that included increase personnel, resources and medical support at the border. It said 600 law enforcement officers would be sent to help Customs and Border Protection, transportation capacity would be doubled and CBP facilities would be prepped to hold up 18,000 people per day, up from a daily capacity of 13,000 people in 2021.
The memo said DHS would bolster resources for NGOs helping migrants and work to disrupt transnational crime and smuggling operations. It said DHS would administer harsher consequences for crossing the border without permission, a process that was happening before Title 42 was enacted.