Political divisions over lifting Title 42 are expected to play out on Capitol Hill Thursday.
The public health order has been blocking many migrants at the border since the start of the COVID pandemic. And while the Department of Homeland Security has released a detailed plan on how to handle the likely influx of migrants expected at the border once Title 42 lifts on May 23, Republicans and some Democrats have been vocal that the plan isn’t enough.
On Thursday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas addressed the administration’s plan in front of the House Judiciary Committee, known for its heated partisan confrontations.
“Under this administration, our department has been executing a comprehensive strategy to secure our borders and rebuild our immigration system,” Mayorkas said in his opening remarks. “With the Title 42 public health order set to be lifted, we expect migration levels to increase as smugglers seek to take advantage of and profit from vulnerable migrants.”
Mayorkas said the administration will continue to enforce immigration laws, but said, “We inherited a broken and dismantled system that is already under strain.”
He said the department has “effectively” managed the border but immigration reform can only come from Congress.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member on the committee, accused Mayorkas of being “out of touch” with the American people and other Republican members expressed similar outrage at the administration’s handling of the border.
On Wednesday, a similar scene played out. Mayorkas testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee and was met with aggressive questioning from Republicans who repeatedly used the word failure to describe the administration’s handling of the border. Some Republicans called on the secretary to resign.
It’s also likely that Mayorkas will face pressure from Democrats who support lifting Title 42 and have been critical of any attempts to delay to ending the order.
Progressive Democrats, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Veronica Escobar of Texas, are planning to hold a news conference after Mayorkas testifies Thursday afternoon.