Speaking from the White House on Thursday, President Joe Biden shared with reporters his plan to combat the escalating crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. In particular, Biden plans to expand an initiative that lowered the number of Venezuelan migrants to include Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians.
In Biden’s remarks, he touched on Title 42, the public health service act that allows the United States to restrict immigration during health emergencies. Since 2020, Title 42 has been in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Title 42 was set to expire until the Supreme Court intervened and kept it in place while legal challenges surrounding the policy played out.
Title 42 allowed Border Patrol to turn away migrants at the border quickly. But, Biden claimed in his remarks on Thursday that it “makes the problem at the border worse.”
BIDEN: Title 42 "makes the problem at the border even worse." pic.twitter.com/S9vCtSbu25— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 5, 2023
CLAIM: Biden claimed that Title 42, which went into effect under the Trump administration at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has worsened the border crisis.
“The previous administration used the rule called Title 42 to deal with the pandemic to rapidly expel people who cross the border. It was designed to deal with the pandemic, but it was used as a means to expel people at the border. People are turned away under Title 42 and they’re not barred from trying to come back. They’ve been turned away, they go back, they try again, they try again…well you know they can and they do try to reenter the United States again and again which makes the problem at the border even worse,” he said.
FACTS: According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures, over 1 million migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border during the fiscal year 2022 were expelled under Title 42. This accounted for about 40 percent of immigrants Border Patrol encountered during this period, as over 2.2 million people attempted to cross the border. This figure was up from 1.7 million encounters in the fiscal year 2021. More than 2 million people have been expelled under Title 42 since Trump put it in effect.
When Title 42 was expected to end, border towns like El Paso, Texas, began to see tens of thousands of migrants prepare to enter the country, which Townhall covered. Shelters on the Mexican border were full of migrants waiting for the policy to be lifted. Around the same time, reports showed that DHS had moved more than 3,400 migrants out of the city through Title 42 expulsions or ICE expedited removal flights.
Last month, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that the Biden administration has been working towards focusing on solutions to fix the border crisis. As Townhall covered, the Biden administration has a track record showing otherwise. It has been focused on undoing immigration policies that were put in place by Trump, Title 42 being one of them.
Since Biden took office, he has worked to reverse several Trump-era policies specifically to boost refugee admissions, preserve deportation relief for illegals, and not enforce the “public charge” rule that denies green cards to immigrants who use government benefits like Medicaid, according to Pew Research. On top of that, the Biden administration has also proposed to increase annual “diversity visas” to 80,000 from about 50,000, which President Trump was against. Title 42 was one of the few policies left in place to protect the southwest border since Biden took office, especially since his administration ended the construction of the border wall and sued Arizona for building their own out of shipping containers.
In addition, Lora Ries, The Heritage Foundation's Director of Border Security and Immigration Center, wrote that under the previous presidential administration, an immigrant's asylum application was denied if an illegal alien applied for asylum in the United States while bypassing a safe third country they’d traveled through. Under Biden, this is not the case.
The New York Post noted that Biden made one important change to Title 42 when he took office. Biden reportedly said that Border Patrol agents could only expel migrants from certain “non-asylum” countries. His administration reportedly "can add or change the list at any point, which makes enforcing Title 42 complicated for Border Patrol agents."
Biden’s claim that Title 42 makes the border crisis worse is FALSE. The Supreme Court’s decision to keep Title 42 in place will allow Border Patrol to send thousands of migrants back to Mexico due to COVID-19. Without it, an anticipated 18,000 illegal immigrants per day are expected to try entering the U.S., which would overwhelm Border Patrol and the communities in the border towns. Right now, as Julio mentioned, Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed with about 8,000 per day. In El Paso, a massive tent has been constructed to help with the overflow of migrants that will need to be processed once Title 42 ends.