This is such a testimony to the lackluster leadership of President Biden over the last two years. When it comes to the border crisis, the president is “damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.”
That’s the situation the White House is in with their border policy right now. Their options are to either re-establish the Trump-era restrictions known as Title 42 or move forward to lift those restrictions against the wishes of some vulnerable Senate allies.
If Biden keeps Title 42 in place, border officials will still be able to keep migrants from seeking asylum due to the pandemic public health protections. But if he ends Title 42 on May 23, immigrant advocates will be happy, and many Democrats in the Senate from border states will be in an uproar.
Right now, the policy will end in May and the Biden administration is apparently preparing for a huge surge in migration. But there has not been a clear message from the White House and that has caused some Democratic allies of the president to create a stir while preparing for the November midterm elections.
Kirsten Sinema, the Democratic senator from Arizona, linked up with a GOP group led by Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma. This group wants to codify Title 42 so that it continues to be implemented
Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) both are critical of Title 42, but they are even more critical of the lack of a clear mandate on the border. They are concerned about what might happen when the restriction is lifted, they are focused on the message being sent to immigrant smugglers.
Gary Peters, the Democratic senator from Michigan, leads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and he leads the Senate Democrats’ campaign division. He says that he has been involved with the Biden administration regarding their post-Title42 plans. But he says that he needs to hear more from the president.
“Unless we have a well thought out plan, I think it is something that should be revisited and perhaps delayed. I’m going to defer judgment on that until I give the administration the opportunity to fully articulate what that plan is. But I share the concerns of some of my colleagues,” said Peters.
The White House has dodged the issue by saying that Title 42 is not really an immigration policy, it is a public health policy driven by the CDC. A spokesperson for the administration said that lifting Title 42 is a return to the previous standard and people will be processed according to the law.
But that has not stopped several Democrats from distancing themselves from the White House and taking a wait-and-see approach. The message is clear, they can’t depend on the Biden administration to implement a cohesive plan at the border.
When the Biden administration left Title 42 in place after the promises they made on the campaign trail, some believe it flew in the face of the message that they would create a new, safer, more humane immigration system.
David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, said, “By delaying it (Title 42) to this point, they’ve done themselves a major political disservice. Because now they really showed their hand. They gave permission to people within their own party to oppose getting rid of Title 42.”
Bier went on to explain that the only way to please the middle of the country is to be able to communicate that the number of people crossing the border illegally is going down.
Biden can’t do that right now, and there does not seem to be a way for him to get out of this corner he is in.