The White House is rejecting calls for the administration to find a way to expand a controversial public health authority that has been used to quickly deport immigrants at the US-Mexico border.
The impending end of Title 42 — enacted under former President Donald Trump to try to contain the spread of Covid-19 and continued by President Joe Biden as the pandemic waned — has created a wave of immigrants arriving in border communities like El Paso, Texas. Some called on the White House to find a way to expand the controversial policy and the administration faced criticism Monday for its handling of border security.
“We have to follow the court order,” a White House official told CNN. “A court requires us to remove it on December 21. We are required to do it.”
Images from the border have sparked concern among elected officials, some of whom have publicly questioned the Biden administration’s readiness and preparedness to deal with the expected influx of people trying to enter the United States.
Over the weekend, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia called on Biden to “use every bit of power he has as an administrator to find a way or ask for an extension.”
“The president could actually, I think, ask for that extension,” Manchin added. “We need an extension until we can get a practical answer to that.”
The White House official declined to elaborate when asked whether Biden had the authority to secure such an extension.
The White House has insisted that the end of Title 42 does not mean that the US border will suddenly be open to everyone – and that there are processes in place to handle the claims of asylum seekers. The administration also pointed to the months-long work done by the Department of Homeland Security to prepare for the increase in immigrants arriving at the border, while calling on Congress to approve funding It was added that the administration wanted to manage the situation.
Over the weekend, a federal law enforcement source familiar with day-to-day operations in South Texas told CNN that border officials in the Rio Grande Valley have encountered 900 to 1,200 migrants daily over the past two weeks.
A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a bid by several Republican-led states to keep Title 42 in effect, setting the stage for the case to go to the Supreme Court.
The Biden administration tried to end the Title 42 program in 2021, but a coalition of mostly GOP-led states — in a separate case filed in Louisiana — successfully sued to block the Department of Homeland Security from ending enforcement.
Immigration in the Western Hemisphere will be discussed Monday between Biden and Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, according to a White House official, who emphasized that Ecuador “sets an important example” on the issue.
The two leaders will also follow up on several issues discussed during this year’s Summit of the Americas, including an agreement to increase security cooperation to deal with drug-related gang violence, the official said.
Over the summer, amid the Summit of the Americas, Biden announced a regional partnership to address mass immigration in the Western Hemisphere. The agreement, known as the Los Angeles Declaration, was signed by several countries in the Western Hemisphere.
According to the statement, governments are expected to commit to expanding temporary worker programs, strengthening legal pathways such as refugee resettlement and family reunification, providing support to countries hosting large migrant populations and cracking down on human smuggling networks.
Biden and Laso will repeat those efforts on Monday, the official said.