(Note: This column was originally published in the Arizona Republic on May 9.)
Invoking Title 42 at the U.S.-Mexico border was always a tyrannical imposition that, unfortunately, found little resistance on the right or the left of the political spectrum in 2020.
It is a red herring that claims to be a benefit to public health by prohibiting persons from filing immigration claims and having their cases heard by an immigration judge.
And as it comes to an end on May 23, we still see undue confusion in both political camps as to its existence and use.
The closure of the borders – by way of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – exacerbated the chaos within our nation’s immigration system.
Many individuals seeking protection under U.S. law were expelled under Title 42 as they sought to cross at ports of entry or between ports of entry to attend to their jobs or see their families. And they kept trying, over and over.
It falsely inflated statistics of what was taking place at the border as these migrants faced immediate deportations with no processing and no repercussions for repeat attempts.
Meanwhile, as Title 42 was being enforced, millions of Americans traveled to and from Mexico to vacation, shop and mingle with the locals. This activity went unaddressed by the CDC as a concern during the COVID-19 era. Title 42 just simply targeted and gridlocked immigration courts and became the new bureaucratic “norm” for visa holders.
Herein lies the purported reason for invoking Title 42, as articulated by President Donald Trump. He said the instant deportations would “preserve good jobs for Americans.” With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing America’s economy is currently limited to 60 available workers per 100 job openings, it begs the question of who Title 42 is truly helping as inflation skyrockets to historic highs and supply chains fumble.
Whether invoking “public health” or “American jobs,” Title 42 never did fit the American constitutional ideal of due process or speedy court proceedings. Instead, it has become a crazy distraction from the real issue – our immigration system is broken.
While Biden juggles appeasing the left with so-called “public health” protections or inflaming the right’s anti-immigration notions, it’s time his administration just move on.
End Title 42. Don’t build a replacement for it. Instead, address the true crisis at hand.
My colleagues at the border need bolstered procedures and infrastructure to properly and humanely process all types of entry claims at the border. Immigration judges should be present in adequate numbers right along the border to immediately and expeditiously adjudicate all claims to do with immigration.
And the White House should lead policymakers to also clarify and prioritize the various categories of visas, because no one knows which ones are still in effect after the past two years.
Most importantly, politicians out of Washington, D.C., should stop coming to the border just for photo ops.
As a sheriff on the border, I’m among those who are desperately looking for bold leaders who are ready to understand and seek solutions that improve our border infrastructure and policies this year. Action cannot wait for another national election cycle to pass us by.
(Hathaway is sheriff of Santa Cruz County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)