By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — The U.S. Supreme Court canceled oral arguments scheduled for March 1 in a case filed by Arizona and 18 other states against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and several federal officials and agencies.
President Joe Biden has said the national public health emergency issued by former President Donald Trump over COVID-19 will expire May 11. Once the national public health emergency expires, so will Title 42 enforcement. The public health authority was implemented to curtail the spread of the coronavirus by expanding expulsions of illegal foreign nationals.
On Feb. 16, the court removed the case from its calendar for March 1 after the Biden administration filed a motion arguing the lawsuit was moot.
Last December, Chief Justice John Roberts issued an administrative stay of a lower court’s ruling requiring the termination of Title 42 pending the court’s decision after it heard oral arguments scheduled for March 1. This was after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last May attempted to terminate Title 42 but were halted from doing so by a federal judge after attorneys general led by Arizona sued. While Title 42’s been one tool used by Border Patrol agents to expel foreign nationals, it was never designed to be used in lieu of enforcing federal immigration laws, critics have argued.
U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Florida, has pointed out that Title 42 hasn’t really been effective in preventing illegal entries as a record number of people have been unlawfully released into the U.S. by the Biden administration, at a rate of 7 to 1. He told Fox News last December, “for every one person that’s sent back for Title 42, you have got seven people that are released into the United States.”
Title 42 has been “better than nothing,” he said. “But the whole problem is actually the policies that have been implemented by the Biden administration, and that have caused this tremendous influx” of illegal foreign nationals into the U.S.
Rep. Gimenez, like Texas and Arizona congressmen, has called for Secretary Mayorkas to be impeached.
CBP officials have said they’re preparing for an unprecedented deluge of people arriving at the southwest border and overwhelming Border Patrol agents once Title 42 ends. Their plan includes releasing those entering the U.S. illegally en masse into local communities. Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Gloria Chavez said she was working with local NGOs to facilitate moving them north into Texas and the U.S.
Since President Joe Biden’s been in office, more than 5 million foreign nationals have been apprehended or reported evading capture from law enforcement, including over 3.3 million in fiscal 2022 alone. While Secretary Mayorkas repeatedly claims “the border is closed,” he’s also announced a plan to increase the processing and release of even more people into the U.S. once Title 42 ends. The president also said he plans to make it easier for people to get here, using an “asylum” phone app.
When meeting with the presidents of Mexico and Canada in early January, he said his administration was working “to make it easier for people to get here.”
In a speech in Mexico City, he said, “Right now, the cartels make a lot of money, which they use for drug trafficking as well. People make it through jungles and … a long journey to the border. Many are victimized, not only in terms of what they have to pay, but victimized physically in other ways. We’re trying to make it easier for people to get here, opening up the capacity to get here, but not having them go through that … awful process.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott proposed five policies the president could implement to secure the border immediately and called on him to designate Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Gov. Abbott says he hasn’t heard back.
In the federal government’s absence, Gov. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, Texas’ border security mission, in March 2021, and the state legislature also allocated more than $4 billion for border security efforts. Gov. Abbott has made border security an emergency legislative item this legislative session, including allocating nearly $5 billion to border security over the next two years.
His plan includes passing legislation to impose a mandatory minimum jail sentence for anyone caught smuggling people in Texas, enhancing the minimum penalty for operating stash houses to a third-degree felony, enhancing penalties for foreign terrorist organizations operating in Texas, among other measures.