As Biden plans to lift Title 42, Democrats want details on how he'll address influx
DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:
Some of President Biden's political allies are worried the White House doesn't have much of a plan for an expected influx of migrants at the southern border next month. That's when the administration is set to lift Title 42, the Trump-era pandemic order that's been used to expel people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Members of Congress are worried it could lead to a chaotic situation, and Democrats are worried there could be political costs. NPR's Deepa Shivaram is here to explain all this. Hi, Deepa.
DEEPA SHIVARAM, BYLINE: Hey there.
ESTRIN: So Republicans have been staunchly opposed to lifting Title 42. What about Democrats?
SHIVARAM: So in the past few days, we've seen two more Democrats express some apprehension about lifting Title 42 next month. That's Gary Peters, a Michigan senator who's chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Chris Coons, a Delaware senator who's a close Biden ally. And they joined several other Democrats in Congress and even some congressional candidates running for office this year who say that they want more of a plan. They want the Biden administration to reconsider or release more details on how to handle the expected influx of migrants once Title 42 expires.
And there's even some Democrats who have joined forces with Republicans in the last few weeks to write up a bill that would delay lifting Title 42 by at least 60 more days, essentially trying to buy some time here. And one of the Democrats who joined on to that bill is Mark Kelly, a senator from Arizona who's up for reelection this year. So the thing to keep in mind in the background of all of this is the concerns that Democrats have about the midterm elections. Republicans have made immigration and the border a huge hot button issue in the past elections, and they'll do it again. And it definitely worries some vulnerable Democrats.
ESTRIN: So what has the White House said?
SHIVARAM: The White House keeps pointing to a plan that the Department of Homeland Security released at the beginning of the month, but they're not adding anything more beyond that. And that plan from DHS says that the department is increasing their capacity to process new arrivals at the border. And they're beefing up law enforcement presence as well. Here's what White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this afternoon.
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JEN PSAKI: We've proposed a plan. So that's a plan that is being implemented. In terms of any ideas to address immigration, including any delay of Title 42, that would require congressional action.
SHIVARAM: And what they're also saying and being really adamant about is that Title 42 isn't technically an immigration policy. It's a public health directive. The administration says they're just following guidance set by the CDC.
ESTRIN: OK. So the clock is ticking, right? There's about a month left until Title 42 is set to be lifted. So what should we be watching for?
SHIVARAM: Yeah. So in the next couple of weeks, I think the thing to keep an eye out for is that DHS has said that they are continuing to expand their resources on the border. And then when it comes to a legislative fix as an option, Congress could act if they want to. But in the meantime, you can expect members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to be asking more questions. This DHS plan has been out for weeks now, but it's clearly not enough for them. And in the next week, you can see DHS Secretary Mayorkas is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee, which is known for its pretty heated partisan confrontations. And the top Republican on that committee is Jim Jordan of Ohio. He's already asking Mayorkas to come prepared for answers on the administration's plans once Title 42 expires. And then on the other side of things, Mayorkas is also likely to get questions from progressive Democrats, who have been pressuring the Biden administration to lift Title 42 sooner.
ESTRIN: NPR's Deepa Shivaram, thanks.
SHIVARAM: Thank you.
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