At Press Conference, Portman Discusses How Lifting Title 42 Will Cause Catastrophe at Southern Border
At a press conference earlier today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) led his fellow Senate Republicans in discussing the Biden administration’s actions and policies that have caused a crisis at our southern border. Earlier this month, the administration announced its intent to lift Title 42 at the end of May. Title 42 is public health order put in place to allow border authorities to turn unlawful immigrants away due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Currently about half of the unlawful immigrants who attempt to enter our country are turned away using Title 42. With a record number of border crossings of unlawful immigrants, as well as the illicit narcotics that are coming over the southern border and into communities across Ohio, Portman expressed serious concern with lifting Title 42 without an adequate plan to deter unlawful immigrants once the order is lifted. Portman emphasized that the administration must work in a bipartisan basis with Congress to enforce our laws and fix our asylum system so it works to ensure the safety and security of all Americans.
A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“We have a number of colleagues coming today and I’m pleased to say that there is a lot of interest in this issue because it’s so important right now. We already have a crisis at the border. Everybody knows that. And that crisis threatens to become a catastrophe. So last year about a million people came into our country, mostly under the asylum system. So they came to the border unlawfully, allowed to come in to the country. This year we are on track to have a lot more. We don’t have the final number yet, but probably it will be between 1.5 and two million people. So it is already at crisis levels, and when you talk to the Border Patrol they will tell you: It is very difficult to deal with the current flow. We also know, that along with people coming over our border in unprecedented numbers, we have an unprecedented amount of illegal drugs coming into the country, particularly the synthetic opioid called Fentanyl. Those numbers are at historic levels, and unfortunately are resulting in overdoses and overdose deaths in this country at historic levels. So in my home state of Ohio for example, we have an increasingly large number of people who are overdosing and dying from Fentanyl. I was at a drug coalition meeting a few days ago in Ohio and I asked whether the national statistics which say that two-thirds of the people who overdose and die are dying from Fentanyl is accurate, and at least in the Toledo, Ohio area they told me ‘no, it’s more like 80-90 percent.’ This Fentanyl is coming in primarily from the southern border. So it’s an immigration issue; it’s a humanitarian issue; it’s a safety issue; and its certainly an issue of illegal drugs – with a devastating impact in our communities.
“We are here to talk about the possibility of it getting even worse, which is because the Public Health Authority which is called Title 42 may well expire. The administration as you know has supported having it expire next month. The Border Patrol again have said, in no uncertain terms to all of us, and I hope to many of you that should that happen, that they will lose operational control of the border.
“Right now there are about 8,000 people a day coming through the border. They believe that if Title 42 is revoked, that number will increase dramatically. The Department of Homeland Security has told us that privately that they think that’s 12,000 and 18,000 people a day. So this is just impossible for the border patrol to handle. The Title 42 issue, to set the stage for my colleagues and their remarks is in litigation. There is a judge in Louisiana whose said that the administration cannot simply revoke this, but they have not set a date as to what might not be the appropriate time frame, if there is one. There is a lot of uncertainty right now, certainly. But, we have to presume that the administration may be successful here, and that means Title 42 would come to an end.
“Roughly half of the people that come to the border are turned away under Title 42. Roughly half. So the million people a year is really two million people a year. About a million are turned back under Title 42. We also know that Public Health Emergency and the National Emergencies Act are continuing in place indefinitely, so there seems to be a real disconnect between what’s happening in regard to Title 42 on the one hand and the Public Health Emergencies on the other hand.
“This is a situation, again, that is already a crisis. Already something that we cannot handle with current resources. Yesterday we had a conference call with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, in which he laid a potential plan should Title 42 be revoked. It sounds a lot like the plan currently in place, which is simply to expedite people coming through the process. No plan to put in the place the kinds of things that were in place during the Trump administration to try deal with the border crisis, including the Remain in Mexico policy, the expedited removals, the notion that with regard to asylum there would be more scrutiny early on in the process. But instead just coming up with a way to provide more resources to move people through the system more quickly. So, in effect, to make it easier for people to get from the border to get to the interior of the country. So that was disappointing.
“I am really glad again that my colleagues are all here. A lot of them have been down to the border as I have and heard directly from Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection and folks at the ports of entry to understand that the severity of this crisis.”