Title 42 Needs to Go Away
The pandemic is officially over but some vestiges remain. By that, I don’t mean that mask mandates are still around or that an authoritarian healthcare regime is in force. Where those fears were ever rooted in reality, they have retreated. What I’m talking about is Title 42.
Title 42, which is itself going away, is one of those topics that blur partisan lines. Where Republicans have typically argued for rolling back pandemic emergency measures, Title 42 is a big exception.
Title 42 is a Trump-era pandemic emergency policy that allows illegal immigrants to be quickly expelled. The policy essentially bypasses existing laws that allow illegal border crossers to request asylum. The policy gets its name from Title 42 of the US legal code, which contains public health laws.
As the Wall Street Journal explains, under Trump’s policy the majority of migrants were quickly returned to Mexico after Border Patrol agents took their names and fingerprints. The policy was aimed at preventing migrants from being held in detention centers in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, some migrants were also transported by air back to their home countries. Both the Biden and the Trump Administration used the policy.
In 2020, the Journal reported that the policy had originated in the CDC, but that officials there had argued against it. Internal documents showed that the policy was driven not by public health concerns but was, in reality, an attempt to use the public health situation to advance the Trump Administration’s anti-immigration policies. The key here is that Trump Administration officials did not look for alternatives such as quarantines that would still have allowed immigrants to make their asylum claims.
In other words, the Trump Adminstration took Rahm Emanuel’s advice and didn’t let the crisis go to waste.
Since the policy was introduced, Customs and Border Patrol data show that apprehensions of families and unaccompanied minors along the Mexican border have flattened, but numbers for single adults have more than tripled. This seems to be partly because families and children are likely to make the crossing to ask for asylum, but it may also be that returning single adults across the border to Mexico makes it tempting to try again.
If a migrant goes through the full deportation process, they are usually repatriated back to their home country. To make another attempt to enter the US, they would have to trek across Central America and Mexico. Under Title 42, however, it’s just another quick trip across the border.
Repatriating to home countries takes time and few countries will accept noncitizens who are being deported from the US. Mexico is one of the few countries that will accept deportees from countries such as Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
No one knows exactly what will happen when Title 42 ends, as is expected next week on May 11. The smart money is that there will be an increase in crossing attempts at least in the short term. As someone once opined, the “coyotes” who make their living by trafficking migrants use any change in US policy to encourage more hopefuls to make the attempt to start a new life in the US. That’s salesmanship in action.
Despite charges that President Biden is soft on immigration, he has kept the policy in place for more than two years even though he promised to end it as he campaigned in 2020 and a month after proclaiming an end to the COVID emergency. At various times, the Biden Administration defended the policy in court and even expanded it earlier this year. As the policy ends, Biden is sending an additional 1,500 troops to the southern border to augment security in advance of the expected surge of migrants.
I’m sympathetic to those who are concerned about illegal immigration, but Title 42 needs to end. In the first place, pandemic emergency orders need to go away since the pandemic emergency is over. I oppose either party using emergency rules to facilitate actions that Congress fails to approve.
Second, I have to point out that, under existing law, it is legal to claim asylum after crossing the border illegally. The majority of asylum requests are denied, but that fact should not be used to circumvent the laws granting the right to seek asylum.
If a return to current law sparks a spike in illegal border crossings, that is not Joe Biden’s fault; that’s the fault of the current legal status quo. The proper solution to the problem is for Congress to change the law, not to keep pandemic-era emergency orders in force. If anyone is fuzzy on the constitutional process for passing laws, click here for Schoolhouse Rock’s refresher, and note that it doesn’t mention emergency Executive Orders.
The fundamental problem is that neither side wants to compromise in order to overhaul the immigration system. We could have had immigration reform that included border security triggers for the pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants several times since the turn of the century, but the attempts were usually killed by the anti-“amnesty” crowd.
To them, let me say two things. First, you don’t know what “amnesty” means. Merriam-Webster defines “amnesty” as “a pardon.” That’s not what recent proposals did. Waiting periods, fines, back taxes, and background checks would have been required under recent reform bills, but the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP has bastardized the term to mean “anything short of deportation.” Mass deportations of all illegals in the US will never happen and you wouldn’t like the police state it would create if they did.
Second, if you helped to kill the recent immigration reform bills then you are to blame for the situation on the border because you helped to preserve the status quo. Killing reform bills that aren’t perfect has the real-world effect of keeping our strained and broken immigration system in place.
Many argue that reform should consist of smaller standalone bills that focus on specific topics. That won’t work and I’ll tell you why. Democrats won’t vote for Republican border bills and Republicans won’t vote for Democrat bills that provide pathways to legalization and a streamlined immigration process. Without bipartisan support, these bills cannot pass. The only way to pass either side’s priorities is with a comprehensive bill that has support from both parties.
Congressional math dictates the strategy, not a desire to trick border security advocates into passing reform and then ignoring the border security parts. If the law was going to be ignored anyway, what would be the point in passing a standalone border bill? (And the border is not really open anyway. If it was, we wouldn’t be seeing such large numbers of arrests.)
Title 42 needs to go away. People who oppose other pandemic emergency policies should be logically and morally consistent enough to oppose this one as well.
But Title 42 does need to be replaced. Congress needs to act to fix our broken immigration system. This fix should have four main parts: Border security, visa tracking to prevent overstays, a streamlined immigration system so it doesn’t take decades to immigrate legally, and a pathway to legalization (not necessarily citizenship) for illegal immigrants who are already here and are productive members of society. I’m also open to a guest worker program for people who want to come here to work but don’t necessarily want to relocate here permanently.
The compromise that I’ve outlined above is the only way that the border problem is going to be solved unless one side somehow manages to get a filibuster- and/or veto-proof supermajority.
Immigration reform is not an insurmountable problem. We can solve it if the radicals on both sides will get out of the way. The insurmountable problem is that I don’t believe the radicals want the immigration problem solved because then there will be one less topic for their demagoguery and fundraising appeals. That’s a much tougher problem to solve.
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This is a very reasonable proposal that most Democrats would support.Report
Yes, although I’m wary of what “border security” looks like for Republicans, because I’ve noticed that’s a code phrase for “building a moat from San Ysidro all the way to South Padre Island and then stocking that moat with hungry rabid crocodiles armed with frickin’ laser beams and then building a thirty-foot high curtain wall with palisades and electrified concertina wire and then densely manning that wall sharpshooters behind the moat and not having any gates or highways actually go through the wall or over the moat” which I strongly suspect is not what most Republicans would actually want in practice but does seem to be the minimum threshold level of border security that their chosen elected representatives would request.
In fact, I think border security is at least as much about what happens in the international terminals of airports as it is at border crossings, but saying something like that apparently means I’m in favor of open borders.
With that out of the way, yes, absolutely, this is a potentially reasonable set of planks for an immigration reform policy and I’d be very happy to see Dems and Reps sitting down to manner out the details of it.Report
But that’s yet another instance where no one, absolutely no one is *actually* suggesting this.
Because no matter how rigid or extreme their border security ideas are, there is always, always, an asterisk caveat *Except for when I may need to take advantage of this*.
Meaning, the *actual* border hawk position is “Lets establish a permanent subclass of non-persons without rights who will silently perform work for free then disappear when not needed”.Report
Jeez. I thought I was being cynical about the border hawks.Report
Immigration remains an intractable problem here because the various actor groups, with one sole exception, are mostly content with the status quos.
From left to right they are:
-The Far Left: Would like open borders and safety net benefits for immigrants but it prefers the current state of that, as a practical matter, lets limitless numbers of refugees and migrants in to a functional alternative that would prevent this.
-The center Left: Just can’t get exercised about immigration in general. They’re good for the economy and good for well off center leftists. This group is also influenced by the business class and the business class likes the current state of affairs.
-The centrists and the capitalist business class: LOVES the status quos: large quantities of workers they can use and the sick ICE on if they get uppity about any element of their jobs? It’s a Randian paradise. They never want it to change.
-The center right: what remains of it makes their bread and butter off demagoguing about immigration. They sure as heck don’t want the issue gone and the business class who hold their leashes have little interest in reforming it. Oh and tax cuts.
-The populist right: Genuinely dislikes the state of affairs and wants it changed. But, ya know, they like cheap labour and cheap produce and cheap construction and they prefer not to think about the ramifications of what happens if all that expendable labor was gone. Surely if the immigrants were gone then my layabout grandkids could get a job paying 40 bucks an hour picking tomatoes over summer to fill in the gap and that wouldn’t effect my grocery prices at all! *eyeroll*.
-The libertarians: Open borders, yo, but the number of genuine libertarians are vanishingly small and a lot of the ostensible libertarians are actually nativist sock puppets so they just sort of talk about open borders the way the far left talks about abolishing the police.
The only way I see this circle getting squared is one of two ways:
-From the left a major centrist/left administration gets the trifecta and either rams through an immigration bill along Davids lines in order to eleminate it as a weapon for their opponents (and to, ya know, maybe improve the problem). The right calls them evil and the left calls them racist.
-From the right: some kind of generational right wing politician actually marshals populist rage and implements some kind of enforcement of employment verification (SWIFT on steroids’) option married with seriously toothy penalties (prison and fines) against businesses and individuals that employ undocumented immigrants. That “fixes” immigration but causes an epic labor shortage and either legal immigration is increased enormously, or we go into an incredible recession until the admin gets landslided out or a tech miracle replaces much of that labor with robots.
But, yeah, I suspect I won’t live to see this substantively changed.Report
The center left, centrists and center right appear to constitute the majority of voters. David’s proposal would seem to meet most of their needs.Report
I would guess that they do Philip, yes- agreed, but there are a couple of confounding factors:
-The center right doesn’t want to cooperate with the center left on immigration. They get votes off of demagoguery on the issue and money from the business interest who prefer the status quos. I think they could realistically expect to be in exile for an electoral cycle at least if they were seen participating.
-The far-left punches above its weight in the media and elite Democratic apparati. As I recall, during the 2020 primary many of the candidates hewed to the far-left line on immigration except for Biden and other candidates in his lane (I think Buttigieg and Klobuchar were closer to Biden on this but I have some vague recollection that they appeared further to his left on it during the debates).
If I had to guess, I’d say an immigration reform bill would be something a center left wing politician wouldn’t explicitly campaign on. It’d have to be opportunistic. From the Center right it’d have to be a fishin’ miracle.Report
As the number of openly center Igor politicians dwindles …Report