Fear and uncertainty before the end of Title 42. Now what?

The Biden administration is committed to strict enforcement of Title 8, but more and more people are calling for an extension of the special health rule due to the expected arrival of up to 16,000 illegal immigrants per day.

May 11 is going to be a big day at the U.S. border. That is the date set by the Biden administration to end Title 42, and fear and uncertainty are growing, as are the number of irregular immigrants approaching the Mexican border. While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is banking on the strict application of Title 8, more and more people, from governors and legislators of both parties to law enforcement agencies and the general public are calling on the federal government to invoke special measures or pass an extension to prevent the expected avalanche of almost half a million undocumented immigrants per month.

DHS expects 11,000-16,000 illegals per day after the end of Title 42

A DHS report from February acknowledges that, after the expiration of Title 42, the flow of immigrants may reach 11,000 per day or even 13,000. Currently, 7,700 arrive daily. These are optimistic forecasts, according to the president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, who warns that they could exceed 16,000 per day given the recent activity of the cartels in the area. Republican lawmaker Andy Biggs went so far as to warn last year that the number could even go up to 30,000 per day in a worst-case scenario.

One of the greatest fears is the knock-on effect that the end of Title 42 may produce. Between November and mid-December, when it seemed that Title 42 would expire, there was an avalanche at the border that broke all records to date. Images of never-ending lines of people on the Mexican side of the border caught the world's eye. Finally, the Supreme Court, in response to an appeal filed by 19 Republican attorneys general, approved an extension. Title 42 is now set to expire on May 11 at 11:59 pm.

McConnell and other GOP senators request extension of Title 42

The scenario has border state governors and conservative legislators very concerned. Even California Gov, Gavin Newsom, known for his pro-immigration policies, warned in December of the troubling consequences of ending Title 42. Last Wednesday, the 11 GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the president requesting that he keep Title 42 in place. The letter includes the signatures of House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, the ranking Republican member of the committee. In the letter, the congressmen justify their request on the grounds that "our border remains under assault. The resources of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remain under tremendous strain. The introduction of 13,000 encounters every day to this crisis would be the equivalent of throwing gasoline on an already raging fire."

In addition, lawmakers point out that the implementation of this mandate has prevented the number of people crossing the border from being even worse than the reported 2.3 million encounters in FY 2022. According to the letter, one million of these undocumented immigrants "were processed" under the authority of Title 42. "Over the past three years, the Title 42 order has been a lifeline to the men and women of Border Patrol, who have been working heroically 24 hours a day to secure our southern border amid the worst border crisis in our lifetimes. Even with Title 42 in place, illegal crossings at the border have been at all-time highs," the senators said.

Biden's lack of action

One of the main criticisms of Joe Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during this term has been their lack of action with regard to the immigration crisis. The immigration numbers throughout Biden's time in the White House are at an all-time high. Close to 5 million people have crossed the border, according to various sources. It seems like the Biden administration's lack of action will continue after the expiration of Title 42. While calling for immigration reform in Congress, and despite declaring that the immigration system "is completely broken," Mayorkas' plans consist of going back to what was being done prior to the creation of the special mandate, something known as Title 8.

More Title 8 after the end of Title 42

The plan presented by the DHS is a return to the pre-COVID immigration legislation. Therefore, the entire burden will fall on Title 8. According to Mayorkas, its strict application even implies a tightening of sanctions and coercive measures against those who try to get into the country without authorization. Homeland Security emphasizes that people crossing the southwest border of the United States illegally will face the following consequences:

  • They will be processed by Title 8 for expedited removal in a matter of days.
  • They may not re-enter the United States for at least five years if deported.
  • They will be presumed ineligible for asylum under the proposed law on circumvention of legal channels unless an exception applies.

Commitment to encourage legal immigration

However, its main argument to curb illegal immigration is not in coercive measures or sanctions but in the promotion of legal immigration. To this end, there are three main proposals:

  • CBP One application. Migrants seeking access from Mexico can schedule an appointment with U.S. authorities.
  • New parole family reunification processes. They will allow entry into the United States on a parole basis, on a case-by-case basis, for individuals under investigation with already approved family-based petitions. Those who obtain this permit may apply for working rights.
  • Double the number of refugees from the Western Hemisphere.

In addition, the Biden administration stressed that "a border-only approach to managing migration is insufficient." They propose renewing and opening new avenues of migratory agreements with the countries of origin of most illegal migrants. They launched an aggressive campaign, which began on April 20, together with Colombia and Panama to get a grip on the Darien Gap and eradicate human traffickers from the area.

Increased deportations and awareness campaigns against human traffickers

There will also be increased deportations of people "who lack a legal basis" to remain in the U.S. DHS stated that deportation flights have increased, including the reopening of deportations of Cubans to Havana.

Finally, the plan includes an ambitious awareness campaign to ensure that immigrants are not duped by human traffickers or cartels. It will involve U.S. diplomatic delegations from around the world and aims to involve national and local authorities in the countries of origin.

GOP demands "serious plan" from Biden administration.

These measures do not convince Republican senators, who insist on keeping Title 42 in place:

Nothing in this rule [proposed by Biden] prevents aliens from filing frivolous asylum claims. Instead, under the terms of the rule, aliens are encouraged to schedule a time to present at a port of entry through the CBP One mobile application, after which time many, if not most, will subsequently claim asylum. …Whether done through the CBP One mobile app or not, this gaming of our asylum system is a major pull factor that is causing the border crisis in the first place, and until your administration has a serious plan to address that, the authority Title 42 gives will still be necessary.