By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Republicans on the House Oversight Committee launched an inquiry into the Biden administration’s decision to lift an immigration rule that has helped slow the rapid rise of illegal immigration.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting documents and communications related to the decision, saying it will “turn the humanitarian and national security crisis on the U.S. southern border into a catastrophe.”
“The Administration’s decision comes at a time when Americans are still forced to comply with COVID-19 mandates in their daily lives,” the letter says. “The Administration has decided to prioritize rescinding this order over rescinding mask and vaccine mandates for the American people. Immigration experts predict that rescinding the CDC’s Title 42 order will even further overwhelm U.S. Border Patrol officers and facilities.
“DHS must adequately prepare to respond to the impending border surge to prevent exacerbating the ongoing national security and humanitarian catastrophe.”
Former President Donald Trump instituted the policy, Title 42, which allows for the expulsion of illegal immigrants at the border to help prevent the spread of COVID. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday it would end the policy, citing the decline in the severity of COVID.
The Republicans’ letter, though, points out that border patrol officials have raised concerns about the policy, saying it will lead to more illegal immigration.
“Border officials have expressed concern that the end of the CDC’s Title 42 order — on top of an already historic level of illegal crossings and facilities over capacity — will precipitate another crisis similar to the mass arrival in Del Rio, Texas, last September of Haitian migrants who waded across the Rio Grande and formed a tent city,’” the letter says. “Reportedly, DHS predicts that as many as 12,000 to 18,000 illegal border crossers per day would attempt to cross once the CDC’s Title 42 order is lifted.”
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement Monday saying the policy change will lead to illegal immigration “above the current high levels,” which have soared since Biden took office.
“As a result of the CDC’s termination of its Title 42 public health order, we will likely face an increase in encounters above the current high levels,” CBP said. “There are a significant number of individuals who were unable to access the asylum system for the past two years, and who may decide that now is the time to come.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently said federal agents encountered roughly 2 million illegal immigrants trying to enter the country last year. That number does not include illegal immigrants who entered without authorities noticing.
The lawmakers called the immigration situation a “crisis” that is about to get worse.
“Even former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson once stated that over 1,000 apprehensions per day ‘was a relatively bad number’ that ‘overwhelms the system,’” the letter says. “He noted, during the surge in crossings in the spring of 2019, that ‘I cannot begin to imagine what 4,000 a day looks like, so we are truly in a crisis.’ We are experiencing that crisis now.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.