Washington, DC – It’s been one week since the overdue end of Title 42. Despite apocalyptic predictions from Republicans, right wing media, and some mainstream observers, a relatively calm and orderly process has been on display since May 11. As DHS noted this week, the number of encounters at the border has dropped by more than 50% compared to before Title 42. Yet as related national media attention begins to wane, there are several important and related storylines worth broader appreciation, which we explore below in four key points.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“This past week has demonstrated that when our government puts resources and a balanced approach in place, including new legal pathways, America is able to meet some of the short-term challenges of our outdated immigration system while we wait for Congress to do its job on a more comprehensive overhaul.
This week also has demonstrated the glaring human toll of our broken system and the relentless and politically-charged efforts by Republicans to inject more anti-immigrant chaos into the mix. If the GOP has its way, they’ll end successful efforts to provide alternative legal pathways and measures to avoid overcrowding in U.S. facilities while creating more barriers to safety for those who qualify for asylum, all while continuing to block the larger legislative fix we need. In fact, as Florida is demonstrating, the GOP’s anti-immigrant zeal is such that they are willing to inject harm into our economy in the pursuit of appeals to the MAGA base.
Meanwhile, the President and Democrats must be held accountable that the safe and orderly routes are broad and fair enough to manage people seeking safety without blocking those in need. The ‘carrot’ of a functioning system is more effective than the ‘stick’ of new exclusions and disqualifications in both the short- and long-run.”
Below are four key takeaways from the first week after the lifting of Title 42:
Point 1: This should not be a debate just about metrics and statistics, but rather about how our outdated and dysfunctional system harms migrants and communities on both sides of the border
The focus here shouldn’t be about numbers – whether higher or lower than anticipated – but real people affected by our policies and about how to manage migration in a smart and compassionate way. We should not mistake the relative calm of the past week as a proxy for a humane and functional immigration system or a sufficient policy approach to global migration – witness the death of an 8-year old girl in CBP custody this week and read León Krauze in the Washington Post: “The real tragedy is unfolding on the Mexican side of the border.” Numbers will continue to fluctuate, while the human toll of a broken immigration system will persist until Congress modernizes our laws.
Point 2: Republicans are actively trying to add more chaos at the southern border
The past week underscores the importance of new alternative pathways that help alleviate border pressures. From the expansion of parole programs and family reunification efforts to refugee processing centers in the region, there are a number of policies that demonstrate why new legal pathways are an essential component of a balanced and orderly approach. But Republicans – through the courts and in Congress – are opposing and seeking to block or dismantle these approaches. From a Trump appointed judge in Florida seeking to block the Biden administration’s ability to parole migrants in areas with holding capacity issues to the House GOP’s HR2 legislative vision, which includes language that would eviscerate orderly processing and restrict parole programs, it’s clear the Republicans are rooting for chaos (and fits into a larger GOP pattern we explore in-depth here).
Point 3: GOP continues with its pre-baked, ugly political attacks and sham impeachment plans despite the relative calm and order of the past week
Republicans had clearly planned, and hoped, for a different and more chaotic week following Title 42, but aren’t letting the reality of the past week derail their pre-baked plans to use the post-Title 42 moment as a cudgel for their political attacks. Witness Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s renewed sham impeachment charges against DHS Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden and see right wing agitation to inject a far right immigration and border package into debt ceiling negotiations. As Greg Sargent chronicles in an excellent Washington Post column today:
“The idea that our border is under perpetual siege isn’t intended as an empirical declaration about a concrete challenge facing the country. Rather, it’s a kind of animating myth, one manufactured to mobilize political energy. In this, it’s essential to MAGA’s identity.
… The fantasy that the border is constantly in chaos has become a marker of MAGA identity. It’s a myth that MAGA Republicans want “border security” that is genuinely achievable or see the border as a policy problem to be solved in any meaningful sense. The border crisis, or at least the version that Greene and her cohorts keep invoking, exists largely in the collective MAGA imagination.”
Point 4: For a real-time case study in the costs and consequences of Republicans’ ugly and politicized approach to immigration, look at what’s happening in Florida ahead of Ron DeSantis’ presidential announcement
State and national media are highlighting the self-inflicted economic costs of the Florida legislature’s recent passage of a collection of anti-immigrant policies pushed by Ron DeSantis ahead of his impending presidential primary campaign. From the Vox article, “Ron DeSantis’s immigration law is already leading to worker shortages,” to the CBS Miami headline, “On new Fla. immigration law, S. Florida farmer warns, ‘Get ready to pay more at grocery store” the early returns are damning. Read more about the costs of the DeSantis anti-immigrant push in this blog post from Gabe Ortiz on the America’s Voice website here.