Texas’ John Cornyn among Senators trying to prevent end of border-related measure

TEXAS – Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn is among a contingent of Senators who filed a bill to prevent the ending of Title 42. The Public Health and Border Security Act calls for Title 42 to remain in place until 60 days “after ending the COVID-19 national emergency declaration.”

The bill follows a lawsuit filed by Attorney Generals in Missouri, Louisiana, and Arizona that seeks to prevent Pres. Joe Biden’s administration from ending the measure.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration implemented Title 42 in 2020, and since that time the measure has been used to expel nearly 1.7 million people caught illegally crossing the southern border.

Title 42 allows our government to quickly expel immigrants caught crossing the border for public health-related reasons, rather than charging the individuals with immigration-related crimes and going through the cumbersome process of deportation.

Immigrant rights groups have been pushing the Biden administration to end Title 42, claiming it prevents immigrants caught illegally crossing the border from seeking asylum. Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control announced the measure was no longer necessary to control the spread of COVID-19 and it was terminating the order that allows Border Patrol to use Title 42.

A report by the Department of Homeland Security issued at the end of March states Border Patrol was experiencing an average of 7,101 encounters a day along the southwest border.

The report further states that the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) produced projections for post-Title 42 southwest border encounters describing low, medium, high, or very high encounter scenarios. These scenarios underpin planning assumptions that generate requirements which in turn drive operational execution.

Based on these projections, the SBCC is currently planning for 6,000, 12,000 (high), and 18,000 (very high) encounters per day.

Critics of ending Title 42, including Gov. Greg Abbott, worry this will lead to an even greater increase in immigrants illegally crossing the border. Abbott recently announced several new border measures including placing razor wire at low-water crossing spots along the Rio Grande, additional lighting in well-known smuggling spots, boat blockades, and increased inspections of commercial vehicles coming from Mexico.

Director of the Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw said the enhanced inspections are to combat cartels taking advantage of Border Patrol agents being bogged down by large groups of immigrants crossing at one time.

“It’s in anticipation that we expect the cartels to do as they’ve done before when Border Patrol is taken off the line, is fully exploit that,” said McCraw.

Abbott also deflected questions about whether Texas would be over-stepping its authority by involving itself in immigration enforcement.

“It will be happening in the state of Texas, not on the international boundary. So this is occurring on Texas property, on Texas roadways,” said Abbott. “They will conduct them in a way that will ensure there will be no constitutional issues that can be validly raised against it.”

Abbott also said the state will offer voluntary bus rides to Washington, D.C. to immigrants caught crossing the border then released into the U.S. while their case is pending in immigration court.

“Who would voluntarily say, ‘I’m going to get on a bus to go to a place to be dumped into the middle of Capitol Hill or outside the White House,’” said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of the immigrant rights organization, FIEL-Houston. “This is just a political move by Governor Abbott who is running for re-election, who is trying to do everything he can to garner support.”

Espinosa also balked at concerns ending Title 42 would lead to even greater numbers on the border.

“When you talk to the average person coming from El Salvador or Mexico from anywhere, from Ukraine, from where ever it may be, they don’t even know that Title 42 exists,” said Espinosa. “This notion that now there’s going to be a bigger crisis at the border for us is non-existent because it really doesn’t translate like that to the community. "

Title 42 is currently scheduled to end on May 23.