End of COVID-19 Health Emergency Could Trigger More Migration

US immigration papers

Immigration reform leaders and migrants patiently waiting to seek asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico are excited that President Joseph Biden and Congressional Republicans want to lift the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration which could also end the pandemic related border restrictions known as Title 42.

Led by the Republican majority, Congress voted Tuesday evening, January 31, to pass the “Pandemic is Over Act” to reverse the emergency – which they believe has hampered the recovery of America’s economy from the pandemic. Enacted by the Trump administration almost three years ago, the Title 42 policy was an easy way to use the public health emergency (the potential spread of the communicable disease COVID-19) to stop migrants from entering the country.  Anti-immigration Republicans want to see the border restrictions continued. 

Aides to President Joe Biden told Congress that if the bill becomes law, it would immediately end Title 42 and “result in a substantial additional inflow of migrants at the Southwest border.” Republicans disagree.  The U.S. Senate is not likely to pass the legislation. A federal court battle is likely if Biden continues to tie the Title 42 policy to ending the pandemic declaration. Biden recently announced he intends to lift the declaration on May 10.   

The number of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who illegally crossed into the U.S. from the southern border declined last month because of tighter restrictions by the Biden administration. Illegal crossings by migrants from those four countries dropped more than 95 percent last month, according to The Washington Post. The total number of migrants fell from 251,487 in December 2022 to about 150,000 in January 2023.  

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