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Progressives push Biden to repeal ‘racist’ Title 42 border measure

Progressive lawmakers Thursday demanded President Biden repeal the Title 42 border measure and urged fellow Democrats to not cave into political pressure by embracing a “xenophobic” Trump-era immigration policy. 

“We reiterate our support for President Biden’s repeal of this fundamentally racist, unjust and cruel Title 42 order,” said Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley, an original member of the so-called Squad. 

Flanked by immigration activists, Pressley and progressive lawmakers held a news conference outside the Capitol Thursday to come out strong against Title 42, at a time when a chorus of moderate Democrats are urging Biden to delay the planned May 23 repeal.

“This unconscionable, racist, and xenophobic Trump-era policy was in effect for too long,” Pressley said. “It did nothing but inflict unspeakable hurt and harm on migrants, particularly Black and Brown migrants — denying millions their fundamental right to seek asylum.”


The Title 42 health order was implemented in March 2020 under former President Donald Trump’s administration as a way to keep COVID-19 outside American borders and expel the majority of migrants seeking asylum at the border. President Biden’s administration kept it in place amid warnings rescinding it could only worsen the border crisis. But the CDC recently announced that Title 42 expulsions will end May 23 because the public health order is “no longer necessary.”

“I want to reiterate to President Biden that we expect him to follow through on his promise to end Title 42 provisions by May 23,” said Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill.

Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia wrote a letter to the Biden Administration urging the White House to delay lifting the Title 42 public health order that has been used to expel a majority of migrants at the border during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers speak about their concerns with lifting Title 42 at the Cannon House Office Building on April 26, 2022.

The Biden Administration said they will move forward with the May 23 rollback, unless a short-term court order keeping Title 42 in place is still in effect. 

Progressives also called out their moderate Democratic colleagues who have warned of a crisis at the border if Title 42 were lifted now — shortly before the midterm elections. 


“To my fellow Democrats who will be caving under political pressure, I want to reiterate, it would be a huge mistake for Democrats to shy away from dismantling this cruel plank of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda,” Garcia said. 

Immigrant men from many countries are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border on December 07, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona. Governors from 26 states have formed a strike force to address the crisis at the border.

Republicans have blasted Biden for moving to undo Title 42, saying it will lead to a surge at the U.S. Mexico-border when law enforcement and border officials are already overwhelmed. The progressives, however, blamed Republicans for failing to work with them on passing comprehensive immigration reform and accused the GOP of preventing a fix so they can stoke anti-immigrant hate for political gain.

“Shame on anyone — Republican or, frankly, Democrat — who uses or buys into the use of immigrants as a political football at the same time that they — as do all of us — benefit from the labor and the contributions of undocumented and documented immigrants,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the leader of the House Progressive Caucus.

Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks with reporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 18, 2021 in Washington.

She urged her Democratic colleagues to “not be afraid to lean into” the issue and counter “Republican xenophobia” with an embrace of immigrants and the fight for a “fair and humane immigration system.”

“That is who we are,” Jayapal said. “Title 42 is a policy failure, plain and simple.”

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