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FIRST ON FOX: The House Freedom Caucus is calling on House Democrats to support a discharge petition that would force a vote on Republican-written legislation to maintain Title 42 border protections for the foreseeable future — just as the policy is due for renewal.
The conservative group calls in a letter to Democrats to sign Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, which would force a vote on Rep. Yvette Herrell, RN.M. “PAUSE Act.” That bill would keep Title 42 protections in effect until all COVID-19 mandates and public health emergencies are ended and until the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lowers the health risk to travelers for Canada and Mexico to Level 1.
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“Customs and border protection is already dangerously overwhelmed, stopping the enforcement of Title 42 authority will be disastrous for Americans and the migrants who want to come here and who will be harassed by violent drug cartels and people smugglers,” it says.
The Title 42 public health order was implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 and allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants on the southern border. It has been used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to quickly expel more than half of all migrants coming to the border instead of letting them into the US
The order is due to be extended in the coming days and the Biden administration is considering withdrawing it, despite fears it will encourage even more migrants to attempt to cross the border and quickly overwhelm authorities.
There were 164,973 migrant encounters in February, a dramatic increase from 101,099 on February 21 – a month preceding a massive surge in the spring and summer months. Meanwhile, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said this week that the US will make one million encounters at the southern border this fiscal year.
The letter warns that ending Title 42, with migrant traffic still above 150,000 encounters per month, “will devastate the southern border and irreversibly damage the security of the United States.”
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It cites data in early March that there were about 97,000 border crossings in the first half of the month, 51% of whom were evicted through Title 42.
“We are on track to meet 200,000 people in March — meaning DHS will release 100,000 people this month, even if Title 42 is partially enforced,” the letter read.
Roy had filed to resign to force a vote on the bill, and the caucus letter says 203 current Republican members have signed it. A petition for discharge requires 218 members of the House to sign, meaning it takes a number of Democrats to sign to be successful.
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“We, the House Freedom Caucus, ask our Democratic colleagues to join us in signing the discharge petition to stand up and defend the health and safety of the United States,” the letter read.
A number of Democrats have warned the Biden administration not to end Title 42 immediately. sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., along with Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., recently expressed concerns about such a move. Meanwhile, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, in the House this week issued a Republican letter calling for Title 42 to be kept in place.