Senators Tillis and Sinema Working on Stopgap Border Measure

With Title 42, a Trump-era border policy, set to expire next week, Senators Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, and Kyrsten Sinema, an Independent from Arizona, are working to a stopgap border measure that would give the Biden administration a two-year, temporary extension to expel migrants from the United States.

An aide to Sinema said the bipartisan pair’s proposed bill differs from Title 42 because it doesn’t rely on a public health order to deny migration and asylum claims.

The legislation would provide migrant protections who would face threats to their freedom or life in their home countries or be tortured, as well as migrants who have serious medical needs, according to Sinema’s aide.

The measure would require it to meet a 60-vote threshold to clear the Senate. It is unexpected to pass before Title 42 expires likely and will face a significant battle for adoption regardless in a chamber that has unsuccessfully grappled with immigration and border issues in recent years.

The Tillis-Sinema measure comes as the House votes on its comprehensive border and immigration proposal next week. The senators’ bill isn’t in response to the House’s proposal but instead in response to the ending of Title 42 on May 11.

GOP sharply criticizes expiration of Title 42, Dems caution not enough resources

The GOP has sharply criticized the expiration of Title 42. At the same time, Dems caution the Biden administration doesn’t have enough resources in place to be able to process the influx of migrants expected at the U.S.-Mexico border in the coming months and weeks.

Eleven Senate Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, urged President Joe Biden in a letter to reconsider and keep Title 42 in place. The senator likened doing away with Title 42 to “being hit by a slow-moving truck in Kansas.”

“I’m asking them to find an acceptable substitute for Title 42,” added Graham.

The original expiration date of the Trump public health edict was May 23, 2022; however, the policy was tied up as the GOP mounted legal challenges to keep the policy in place. The Biden administration announced in February that the termination of the Covid-19 pandemic would additionally end Title 42.

The issue is considered a political minefield for the White House, which faced public appeals over the past year from some Dems to keep the border policy.

Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who hasn’t announced yet if he will seek reelection, said the end of Title 42 was a “shame” and seemed frustrated by the chamber’s border gridlock.

“I think the border has to be secure, period,” said Manchin. “It’s a disaster at the border.”