Democrats Again Reject Border Security, Judge Halts Migrant Release

In a striking display of partisan divide, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the “Secure the Border Act,” just hours before the Trump-era Title 42 rule expired. The bill, aimed at fortifying our nation’s borders, faced opposition from every Democrat present in the House and a handful of Republicans.

The Secure the Border Act was seen as a direct response to the Biden administration’s lax approach to border security. It requires the restart of border wall construction, introduces new technology at our borders, and provides funding for more Border Patrol agents. It also aimed to increase transparency from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and strengthen laws protecting unaccompanied children.

Despite the urgency of the issue, Joe Biden announced his intention to veto the Act even if it were to pass, blaming Congress for the border crisis that did not exist during the Trump administration using the same immigration framework and border laws.

House Republicans, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), were quick to criticize the Biden administration’s inaction. They argued that their plan would increase Border Patrol agents, provide effective border enforcement technology, resume border wall construction, and end the administration’s catch-and-release policy.

Meanwhile, a federal judge issued a last-minute temporary restraining order on Thursday against the Biden administration, blocking a policy allowing migrants to be released without court dates. The administration’s policy, known as “parole with conditions,” was intended to alleviate overcrowding in Customs and Border Protection facilities but was halted by the court due to its similarity to a previous policy blocked by the same judge.

The expiration of Title 42, implemented in March 2020 due to COVID-19, was expected to increase migrants at the southern border significantly. It allowed the Trump and Biden administrations to return migrants at the border rapidly. Instead, its expiration saw a considerable surge in migrants hoping for admittance into the U.S.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who sued after media reports emerged of the planned releases, argued the policy was “materially identical” to the previously blocked policy. The judge agreed with Moody, stating that Florida had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits because the challenged policy appeared materially indistinguishable from the previous policy.

While the DHS had acknowledged the plan to release migrants without court dates, it denied conducting “mass” releases, stating that such releases only took place on a case-by-case basis.
Ultimately, the DHS and President Biden admitted chaos would likely follow the order’s expiration. Nevertheless, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been touting a comprehensive plan that includes international cooperation, a new asylum rule, a surge of personnel, expanded legal processes, and stiffening traditional immigration law penalties.