The ink was barely dry when a host of GOP states filed a lawsuit over the Biden administration’s decision to end use of Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum order by May 23. The administration announced Title 42’s upcoming end on Friday. By Monday, the Republican attorneys general of Arizona, along with noted border states Louisiana and Missouri, had sued.
Missouri’s Eric Schmitt in a statement defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order’s continued use, claiming that “Title 42 is a crucial tool for controlling the influx of illegal aliens at our Southern border.” But wasn’t the order always supposed to be about public health?
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The lawsuit was expected, though it’s surprising that Texas is not among the bunch. Not yet, at least. All three states have previously taken action against the Biden administration over immigration-related policies, and what they’re hoping is that the GOP’s anti-immigrant judicial pipeline again bears fruit.
That anti-immigrant judicial pipeline has previously blocked the Biden administration’s 100-day halt on deportations, blocked new deportation enforcement guidelines, and ordered the reinstatement of the inhumane Remain in Mexico policy. Republicans not only believe that Democrats shouldn’t be able to win elections, they believe Democrats shouldn’t be able to govern when they do.
As noted by The American Independent’s Oliver Willis, Republican states are fighting to keep this public health order in place even as they’ve steadily fought against other pandemic mandates.
“For instance, in February, Schmitt complained of ‘COVID tyrants’ who support policies like mask mandates,” Willis wrote. The previous administration invoked Title 42 nearly two years ago, against the advice of public health experts, in order to use the pandemic as a cover to block U.S. asylum law. “Prior to invoking Title 42, Trump's immigration advisers—led by senior White House adviser Stephen Miller—had been searching for a way to use public health laws and policy to restrict immigration to the United States,” he continued.
Republicans will use Title 42’s rollback “to fearmonger in an election year, using nativist talking points based on falsehoods,” The Boston Globe columnist Marcela García writes. “An invasion is coming! Expect chaos at the border! Yet those sound bites ignore the fact that Title 42 utterly failed even as a border management mechanism: Data show that migrant encounters surged to a record high during the policy.”
“For Biden and the Democrats, the end of this disastrous policy should not be framed as a political headache, but as an opportunity to demonstrate that it is possible and suitable to process asylum applications in an orderly, legal, and humane way at the US-Mexico border,” she continued, noting new policy intended to speed up asylum processing, and a plan “that includes directing more resources and personnel to the southern border.”
García is right. For as long as we can successfully keep this policy from continued use, it should be framed as a huge step forward for U.S. asylum law and a victory for vulnerable people who have been blocked from their U.S. asylum rights for more than two years. Isn’t restoring asylum law, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, undoubtedly a good thing? And why shouldn’t it be a win for the president, too, comporting to his pledge for a more humane immigration system?
Or we can just let Stephen Miller and racist border agents keep controlling the narrative, with his lies that restoring U.S. asylum rights “will mean armageddon,” and the agents’ union claiming supposed “mass chaos.”
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