WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oklahoma officials said Title 42 – the Trump-era public health order that tightened border restrictions to mitigate COVID-19 – is necessary to secure the southern border and to stop the unfettered flow of migrants.
“We joined a coalition of 21 states in a lawsuit against the Biden administration, which in our estimation has totally failed the American people when it comes to immigration policy and border control,” Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor told Fox News of the state’s effort to keep Title 42 in place.
Title 42, which was implemented in March 2020, has been used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to quickly expel migrants at the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in early April that it would terminate Title 42 on May 23, stating that the order was “no longer necessary” because of “an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19.”
SENIOR DHS OFFICIAL PREDICTS LIFTING TITLE 42 WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD TO DROP IN BORDER CROSSINGS
More than 20 states have since signed onto a lawsuit asking federal court to stop Title 42 from being lifted, claiming that eliminating the public health order would lead to a bigger crisis at the southern border.
“This is about securing our southern borders,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt told Fox News. “If we take the border officers’ ability to enforce and be able to keep people in Mexico, we basically have no borders in the southern part of our state.”
“We have to have a strong border, and so we’re pushing this administration to just stop playing politics,” Stitt continued. “If you don’t have borders, you really don’t have a country.”
The Department of Homeland Security has outlined a plan for dealing with the potential influx in migrants should Title 42 be lifted. But the states claim in their lawsuit that the Biden administration failed to account for the costs of ending Title 42, such as increased health care expenses for the states.
A federal judge is expected to determine the fate of the Biden administration’s plan to lift Title 42 within days.
O’Connor said the impact of removing Title 42 would be felt beyond border states like Texas.
“Oklahoma is next to Texas but every state is impacted by the free and unfettered inflow to our country of illegal immigrants,” O’Connor told Fox News.
“We see a high concentration in Oklahoma of drugs that come in from Mexico, we see the influence of the cartels,” O’Connor continued. “So this is not a Texas problem, it’s not a border problem, it’s an American problem for all 50 states.”
The lawsuit was originally filed by Missouri, Louisiana and Arizona in a U.S. District Court in Louisiana.