Spanberger Urges Biden Administration to Delay Lifting Title 42, Develop “Comprehensive” Plan to Secure America’s Southern Border

The Congresswoman is also a Cosponsor of the “Public Health and Border Security Act,” Which Would Require a Plan from DHS & HHS to Respond to an Increasing Surge at the Southern Border Before the Administration Rolls Back Existing Title 42 Authorities  

Reps. Spanberger and Slotkin: “While You Inherited this Problem, it is Now Your Responsibility – with Necessary Help from Congress – to Address Our Broken Immigration System”

**Click Here to Read the Full Letter**

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a new letter sent this week to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08) urged the Biden administration to delay lifting Title 42 until a comprehensive plan is ready to “address the inevitable migration surge” at the U.S. southern border.

Spanberger is a former federal agent and CIA case officer who worked narcotics trafficking cases —and Sloktin is also a national security professional who served at CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense. In their letter, the Members recommended the administration also institute “in-country immigration processing in Central America” to make applying for legal status outside the United States a viable option and to free up resources for asylum seekers at the border. Additionally, they reiterated the need for comprehensive immigration reform that will secure America’s border and points of entry in the long run — while also making legal immigration, tied to America’s economic needs and close family connections, easier.

“We are concerned about how DHS will contend with an increase of people — including children and families — that will more than triple the department’s capacity without ample and robust planning,” said Spanberger and Slotkin. “And while the administration gave itself two months to prepare, what has been shared with us to date seems like too little, too late — especially when the removal of Title 42 will occur at the same time that a spike in seasonal migration occurs.”

Click here to read the full letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Secretaries Blinken and Mayorkas and Ambassador Rice,

We are writing to urge the development of a comprehensive plan for how your departments will handle the increased numbers of individuals and families who will be arriving at our nation’s southern border – ahead of any lifting of the Title 42 order. At this point, generations of Democrats and Republicans in the White House and in Congress have failed to provide the laws and policies needed to properly handle immigration in this country. While you inherited this problem, it is now your responsibility – with necessary help from Congress – to address our broken immigration system. Given our backgrounds in national security, we know the Executive Branch is accustomed to planning for contingencies, and it is for this reason that we submit to you the below requests for actions to be taken before the administration lifts the Title 42 order, so that we prevent a humanitarian and security crisis.

According to public statements, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifts the Title 42 order, currently slated to occur on May 23, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expecting that up to 18,000 people per day will require short-term holding for processing and transfer. This number would more than double the current rate, which exceeds 7,000 people per day, and would well exceed the DHS’s stated operational capacity of 5,000 people per day. We are concerned about how DHS will contend with an increase of people – including children and families – that will more than triple the department’s capacity without ample and robust planning. And while the administration gave itself two months to prepare, what has been shared with us to date seems like too little, too late – especially when the removal of Title 42 will occur at the same time that a spike in seasonal migration occurs.

Instead, we urge you to do three things, in collaboration with Congress, to help prevent the looming humanitarian and security crisis:

First, delay lifting Title 42 until you have a plan in place to address the inevitable migration surge. This plan should include details on how DHS will support robust border security in the face of growing numbers of migrants, while also maintaining the dignity of those arriving at our border in search of a better life. We request that your agency share with Congress detailed plans that address the Department’s staffing, technological, and humanitarian support requirements to handle expected encounters, as well as the funding proposal necessary to make such preparations. To this end, we recently introduced the H.R.6794 Integrating New Technologies to Empower Law Enforcement (INTEL) at Our Borders Act, which would identify potential technological shortfalls with our border security.

Second, institute in-country immigration processing in Central America. We welcome your leadership on solving this decades-long crisis. Increasing options for legal immigration, particularly for those looking to legally work in the U.S., helps free up resources at the border needed for legitimate asylum seekers. We urge you to think creatively about the tools you have available to you – like issuing the maximum allowable work visas and expanding in-country processing – and to provide Congress with your vision for any legislative fixes you need. By taking a whole of government approach, surging personnel from the State Department and Commerce, not just Customs and Border Patrol, we can make applying for legal status from outside of the United States a safe and viable option. Otherwise, the migrants, simply seeking a better life for their families, will continue to trek more than 1,000 miles and pay thousands of dollars per person to dangerous cartels and human smugglers.

Lastly, we need to plan for continued migration surges. We should be treating migration surges similarly to how we treat natural disasters: as events that will ebb and flow with world events and that demand a swift, coordinated response. We are ready to work with you on a plan where we can prepare for expected contingencies instead of being overwhelmed over many years and many administrations. We should move forward in a manner that ensures we are protecting our borders, securing our ports of entry, and recognizing the dignity of migrants.

Planning for the eventual lifting of the Title 42 order presents the State Department, DHS, Congress, and other agencies with a clear mandate to improve upon a broken immigration system. We need to plan for the impact of increased migration, implement creative and safer strategies to process would-be migrants, and protect the economic interests of our country and hemisphere. We urge you to use the tools you have at your disposal to mitigate a potential humanitarian crisis on our southern border, and we, in turn, commit to doing whatever we can to get Congress to work as a partner on such a plan.

Thank you for your consideration.

BACKGROUND

Title 42 is a provision of the Public Health Service Act of 1944. In March 2020, the Trump Administration invoked Title 42 to prevent most migrants from entering the United States at the southern border, particularly those who would be placed in congregate care settings, citing concerns aboutthe spread of COVID-19. The Biden Administration had largely continued the Trump Administration’s policy, but announced that it will begin rolling back the policy next month. However, a major surge in migration is expected to continue and increase over the coming months.

Earlier this month, in response to the Biden Administration’s delayed response to the increasing security and humanitarian challenges at the southern border, Spanberger backed the bipartisan Public Health and Border Security Act. The bill would prohibit the Biden Administration from ending Title 42 until at least 60 days after formally ending the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration. In addition, this bipartisan legislation would require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DHS Secretary to submit a plan to Congress on how they will address an influx in migrants as a result of ending Title 42. 

Spanberger has long been focused on the security challenges at America’s southern border and points of entry. Last Congress, then-President Donald Trump signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation — led alongside former U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX-23) — to combat Central American trafficking and smuggling networks, as well as strengthen U.S. border security.

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