Title 42 debate continues on Capitol Hill

Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2022 - 3:50pm
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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are asking the Biden administration how it will handle the border after Title 42. The pandemic-era restriction on asylum at the border is slated to end next month following a federal court order out of Washington, D.C., this month.

Title 42 has been used to send more than a migrants and asylum seekers back across the border to Mexico. The a public health protocol was implemented under the Trump administration, in the spring of 2020, but has also been used and expanded by the Biden administration. 

During a Congressional hearing this month, Senator Kyrsten Sinema asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas what will happen when the protocol ends. 

"These current levels of migration are unprecedented, following the D.C. circuit’s recent ruling on Title 42, Arizonans are concerned that we’ll see these numbers surge even higher," Sinema said.  

Mayorkas said additional agency personnel and contractors were being sent to the border to help. He also pointed to a rule change enacted earlier this year that has asylum case investigators work with migrants as soon as they cross the border seeking protection.

"We propagated a regulation in the absence on much needed legislation to fix the system, which takes a 6-8 year asylum variant, which is just unmanageable, and reduces it potentially to under a year," he said. 

Sinema co-introduced a bill last year to set up processing centers along the border to handle asylum claims, give legal and humanitarian aid and also detain some individuals. The measure has not yet been brought to the floor. 

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled to vacate the use of Title 42, siding with the ACLU and other groups who argued it was being used as a border enforcement tool, rather than a measure to protect public health during the pandemic. It's slated to end on December 21st now, though Arizona and other GOP-led states have sued to stop the termination.