Title 42, the pandemic border measure that sped up removals, is ending today and the White House and Congress are bracing for a sudden increase in migrant crossings.
As is often the case with border policy, nobody involved is happy with the situation, but there’s little sign of a workable agreement on what to do next.
The View From The President
Biden’s plan includes setting up centers in Latin American countries to screen asylum applicants and deploys 1,500 active-duty military personnel to assist U.S. Border Control with non-law enforcement work.
It tightens asylum rules for applicants in ways that resemble the Trump administration’s approach, including requiring them to seek shelter in other countries first.
The administration also is reinstating penalties for crossing the border illegally that were suspended under Title 42, while expanding pathways for people from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to apply with U.S. sponsors to come and work in the country.
The View From The House
Members of the House are expected to vote on H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, this afternoon, following three hours of debate time.
It’s a Republican wishlist that reintroduces some Trump-era measures like finishing the Southern border wall and adding new asylum restrictions.
Within the Republican caucus, there’s a dispute over language around designating Mexican cartels foreign terrorist organizations. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas had opposed the provision and argued the designation would increase the influx of asylum seekers by giving people migrating to the country a new “credible fear” claim.
Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, who insisted cartels be labeled FTOs, broke with the party on a procedural vote after the language on this topic was changed. “I'm not happy that it got watered down, especially when there was a gunfight along the border, you know, an hour and a half ago,” Gonzales told Semafor on Wednesday.
There also continues to be lingering trepidation about E-Verify, which some Republicans fear could create problems for the agriculture, hospitality, and service industries. Members expect a fix before an E-Verify mandate ever hits Biden’s desk. While this is a messaging bill and is expected to die in the Senate, sources in the Upper Chamber have told Semafor they believe it’s a good start for bipartisan negotiations.
The View From The Senate
Last week, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. and Thom Tillis, R-N.C. announced a bill that would temporarily extend a version of Title 42 for two years, but does not rely on the COVID-19 health emergency provision.
Senators had worked to marry border security and immigration reform in the last Congress, but those plans seem to be put on hold. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and John Cornyn, R-Texas are also co-sponsors of the bill. All of them have accused the Biden Administration of being slow to respond to the expiration of Title 42.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. released his own framework which included a call for new legal pathways to entry and increased funding at the border to quickly process and remove arrivals.