Border warnings on Title 42 ‘doing the work of the smugglers,’ White House says

Migration Asylum Ban
A small group of migrants discuss whether or not to cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and surrender to the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. Texas border cities were preparing Sunday for a surge of as many as 5,000 new migrants a day across the U.S.-Mexico border as pandemic-era immigration restrictions expire this week, setting in motion plans for providing emergency housing, food and other essentials. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton) Andres Leighton/AP

Border warnings on Title 42 ‘doing the work of the smugglers,’ White House says

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The White House defended its handling of a migration crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, charging that people warning of a surge in arrivals once Title 42 ends are reinforcing cartel messaging.

Title 42 allowed border agents to rapidly expel hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the country without hearing an asylum request before a court ordered the Biden administration to stop using it. With the pandemic-era border policy set to expire on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican elected officials have warned of an impending emergency with estimates of 50,000 people waiting to cross.

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Biden’s press secretary said those raising the alarm about an open border are sending a message to potential immigrants.

“The removal of Title 42 does not mean the border is open,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply doing the work of the smugglers.”

The smugglers “are spreading misinformation,” she added.

Lawmakers in Congress have raised concerns that the administration has not prepared adequately for the end of the rule. On Saturday, El Paso’s Democratic mayor declared a state of emergency as facilities buckled under the already-high numbers.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told CBS News over the weekend that the White House has “been playing” on border security for two years, talking up plans while blaming Congress and Republicans.

The administration has requested more than $3 billion, but Cuellar said, “it’s mainly for food and shelters, processing, transportation, but it doesn’t really talk about security.”

Jean-Pierre defended the administration’s decision not to contest the rollback “doesn’t change the process that we have been moving forward with since day one of this administration.”

“When Title 42 goes away, we will go back to Title 8, which allows for a process to make sure that people can have their own asylum claims heard, and those who do not have a legal basis to remain will be quickly removed,” Jean-Pierre said.

The White House said it had urged Congress to approve the president’s budget to help with border enforcement.

“If congressional Republicans are serious about dealing with the challenges that we’re seeing at the border, they will assist,” Jean-Pierre said.

Asked why Biden has not visited the border since taking office, she said the president is focused on coming up with solutions and ensuring sufficient resources for the challenge. The White House had requested more than $3 billion from Congress for border support.

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Biden said recently that he had “more important things going on” when a reporter asked if he would visit the border during a trip to Arizona.

Jean-Pierre declined to confirm reports of a transit ban, stricter deportation policies, and expanded immigration options for people arriving from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua but said the Biden administration was “surging” resources to the border.

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