White House claims it’s ‘misinformation’ to say border ‘open’ when Title 42 ends
WASHINGTON — “The border is not open” and thousands more migrants planning to cross into the U.S. from Mexico this week should know that, the White House said Monday — despite the looming end of a COVID-19 policy that was the one thing stopping them.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered the message — while hinting at a new migration policy announcement coming Tuesday — despite broad expectations that most migrants who illegally cross the border and apply for asylum will be released into the US after the Title 42 policy ends as soon as Wednesday.
“The fact that the removal of Title 42 is happening in just a day or two doesn’t mean that the border is open. It just doesn’t mean that,” Jean-Pierre said at her regular briefing, shortly before the Supreme Court abruptly paused the termination of the policy in response to a lawsuit from 19 Republican-led states.
“When Title 42 goes away, we will go back to Title 8, which allows for process to make sure that people can have their own asylum claims heard, and those who do not have a legal basis to remain will be quickly removed,” Jean-Pierre said.
CBS reporter Ed OKeefe pressed Jean-Pierre on her message for migrants —about 50,000 of whom are estimated by the Associated Press to be waiting out the policy change.
“In plain English to migrants who might be thinking about it, what should they do after Wednesday?” O’Keefe asked.
“It would be wrong to think that the border is open. It is not open and I just want to be very, very clear about that,” Jean-Pierre said.
“The border is not open. So I want to be very clear about that because we are doing the smuggler’s job if we spread misinformation,” the spokeswoman also said.
The term “misinformation” often is wielded by government agents to pressure social media companies to censor online news and commentary — regardless of the actual veracity of information.
Reuters reporter Steve Holland asked Jean-Pierre about the estimate of 50,000 people waiting to cross and whether the expected rush could overwhelm the Border Patrol.
“I don’t have a number of you at this time. What I can say is that we know smugglers will try to spread misinformation to take advantage of these vulnerable migrants,” she said.
“The fact is that the removal of Title 42 does not mean the border is open. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply doing the work of these smugglers who again are spreading misinformation and which is very dangerous,” she said.
Asked if some migrants might still be rapidly expelled to Mexico under some other legal authority, Jean-Pierre said, “we will have some more to share tomorrow.”
Both the Biden Justice Department and Republican-led states asked a federal appeals court in DC to leave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-issued rules in effect, but were refused before the Supreme Court stepped in on Monday evening.
Jean-Pierre sought to pin blame on the policy change on the courts — even though the Biden administration tried earlier in the year to administratively end Title 42 — while arguing Congress should approve President Biden’s request for more than $3 billion in funding to process migrants, whose asylum claims will have to be reviewed by backlogged courts.
Local officials are panicking after already coping with massive migrant influxes as the Biden administration gradually eased enforcement of Title 42 since taking office last year.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday, “We’ve already received more than 31,000 asylum seekers into our city, and currently have open 60 emergency shelters, four humanitarian relief centers, and two welcome centers. We have been told in no uncertain terms that, beginning today, we should expect an influx of busses coming from the border and that more than 1,000 additional asylum seekers will arrive in New York City every week.”
“Our requests for assistance have been mostly ignored,” Adams went on. “And while the New York federal delegation has repeatedly advocated for funding to be sent back to New York City, many in Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — have refused to lift a finger.”
“This can’t continue,” Adams added. “With the expiration of Title 42 just days away, we need the federal government — both in the administration and in Congress — to share their plans to move asylum seekers to other cities, to allow asylum seekers to work, and to send aid to the cities that have borne the brunt of this crisis.”
Nearly 2.4 million people were detained after crossing illegally into the US in fiscal 2022, which ended Sept. 30 — an increase from 1.7 million in fiscal 2021, fewer than 500,000 in fiscal 2020 and nearly 1 million in fiscal 2019. Those figures do not include migrants who evaded arrest.
Critics blame the border surge on Biden’s border policies and his more welcoming rhetoric. Biden halted construction of the Trump administration’s border wall, ended a policy of requiring migrants to remain in Mexico to await court ruling on their asylum claims and asked Congress to pass legislation most of the illegal immigrants currently in the US.
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