U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is the latest House Democrat to jump onboard legislation to prevent the Biden administration from ending Title 42 protocols effective in turning away migrants at the border.
Explaining that lifting the immigration restrictions will create “chaos” at the border, Cuellar, a moderate House member, argues the policy should stay in place for now. The son of migrant farm workers was born near the Mexican border and now faces a hotly contested runoff battle with progressive newcomer Jessica Cisneros next month.
The Title 42 policy was enacted by the Trump administration and Centers for Disease Control early in the pandemic to protect public health by allowing the immediate expulsion of migrants. The CDC announced the policy will end May 23, and while GOP opposition was assumed, the strident reactions by many Democrats are surprising.
Cuellar became the sixth House Democrat to oppose lifting the rule and says the party will be “hit hard by the Republicans” if his party does not “stand up and do the right thing.” Customs and Border Protection is already making a record-breaking 8,000 apprehensions daily, and officials expect that number to soar to as many as 18,000 when Title 42 terminates.
There are multiple reports of tens of thousands of migrants camped on the Mexican side of the border awaiting the rule’s recension. The likelihood of border crossings nearly tripling next month has Texas officials and residents alarmed at the prospect of being overwhelmed by an even larger surge.
Moderate Democrats across the country are breaking with Biden’s policies as they face GOP challenges of being soft on immigration. Five of the party’s senators from regions as far-flung as Arizona, West Virginia, and Maine teamed up with Republicans last week. The bipartisan group proposed a bill putting off the end of Title 42 until the surgeon general announces the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Every Democrat throwing their support behind sustaining Title 42 restrictions is in a hotly contested race. From Rep. Cuellar’s looming primary showdown to the November midterms sending panic waves through the party, it is very clear where these legislators believe the pulse of the electorate lies.