White House Signals Biden Will Keep CDC Migrant Removal Order As Officials Say Plans to End ‘In Flux’

US President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, July 26, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden is delaying plans to end the anti-epidemic Title 42 Trump-era measure that allows border agents to remove migrants instantly, the White House signaled Monday, echoing other U.S. officials.

Former President Donald Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invoked Title 42 in 2020 to allow authorities to restrict border crossings by quickly removing any migrant in the interest of public health.

Without explicitly mentioning Title 42, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday:

We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), indicated on Twitter that the press secretary’s comments suggest the administration will defer ending Title 42 expulsions by July 31 or sooner as some news reports suggested last month.

Psaki’s comments on Monday came after three Biden administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity told NBC News last Thursday that the potential deadline of ending the measure by the end of July was “in flux.”

NBC News learned that the Biden administration fears ending the policy would intensify the already record number of migrants reaching the border each month and fuel the rising number of Chinese coronavirus cases in the U.S. driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Last Tuesday, a White House official reportedly refused to commit to when Biden will revoke the policy, already weakened by the administration, saying it was up to the CDC.

On Thursday, NBC News noted:

The rising number of cases of Covid-19 [coronavirus disease] in the U.S. caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus is one factor pressuring the White House to rethink its plan. But, the two U.S. officials said, the administration is also concerned about funding, facilities, and staffing issues associated with the lifting the restrictions.

The number of migrants testing positive for coronavirus has reportedly skyrocketed in Texas’s Rio Grande Sector, considered the epicenter of the border crisis.

Three out of every ten detained migrants are also reportedly refusing the vaccine.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has reportedly not received any guidance on lifting Title 42.

Biden officials insist Title 42 keeps the U.S.-Mexico border closed to non-essential travel.

However, Biden has watered down the measure. The administration grants removal waivers to tens of thousands of unaccompanied children, some families, and adults deemed vulnerable, including a growing number of global migrants from outside Mexico and Central America.

Despite the changes to the original policy, Democrats and pro-immigration advocates continue to lobby Biden to end Title 42, calling it inhumane because it denies asylum to some migrants.

“If they totally wiped [Title 42] out, we could have a rush at the border. It would be catastrophic,” one official told NBC News.

The Biden administration is already facing a border crisis that it has failed to contain. Republicans blame the record migrant surge on Biden’s decision to end his predecessor’s border security policies that effectively limited migration.

Over each of the last three months, CBP migrant encounters at and between the ports of entry have reached a record level.

In June alone, CBP came across over 188,000 migrants, a high not seen in more than two decades. CBP documented a similarly high number of migrants in April and May. Migrants from beyond Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle region are fueling the recent record-setting figures.

Despite the heatwave plaguing the U.S., that trend appears to be continuing this month, with CBP agents reportedly apprehending or removing thousands of aliens under Title 42 each day.

U.S. border officials are transporting some migrants to be processed and into the interior of the U.S. in buses and vans.

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