Dem Rep.  Cuellar joins bipartisan effort to block Biden's rollback of Title 42, opposes busing migrants to DC

Dem Rep. Cuellar joins bipartisan effort to block Biden’s rollback of Title 42, opposes busing migrants to DC

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FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, has signed onto bipartisan House legislation that would block President Biden from lifting existing Title 42 immigration restrictions without a plan in place to address the expected surge of migrants at the Southern border.

Cuellar joins with fellow Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire and Greg Stanton of Arizona in saying the Biden administration is not prepared for the large increase of border crossings expected when Title 42 evictions end May 23.

“Title 42 should not be lifted,” Cuellar told Fox News Digital in an interview during which he revealed that he signed onto the legislation, which was introduced earlier.

BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXTEND TITLE 42 LATEST SIGN OF MODERATE DEM OPPOSITION TO BIDEN BORDER MOVE

He said if Democrats “don’t stand up and do the right thing, they’re going to be hit hard by the Republicans” during the upcoming midterm elections.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 30: U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) speaks on southern border security and illegal immigration, during a news conference at the US Capitol on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“But some of us are standing up and saying this is the right thing to do for the border,” Cuellar said of keeping Title 42 in place. “We all believe in immigration reform, but we don’t want chaos at the border. We want law and order at the border.”

The House legislation is similar to the bipartisan Senate legislation introduced this week with the support of five Democrats: Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Maggie Hassan, DN.H.

The legislation would extend Title 42 by an extra 60 days, and would require within 30 days the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a plan to Congress on how they will address the expected surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border.

The Title 42 order was implemented in March 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to quickly expel a majority of migrants at the border.

TEXAS BEGINS DISPATCHING BUSES TO THE BORDER TO TRANSPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO DC

The CDC announced last week that it will end the order on May 23, immediately sparking fears from both sides of the aisle, including within the Biden administration, that it will lead to a surge in migration — on top of the already massive numbers being encountered by Border Patrol each day.

“The Biden Administration is not currently prepared for a large increase in border crossings,” Golden said in a statement. “Ending these Title 42 authorities without a plan in place to manage the resulting influx of migrants is irresponsible and could create crisis conditions that would be dangerous for both migrants coming to America and Americans themselves.”

UNITED STATES - MARCH 6: Rep.  Jared Golden, D-Maine, is seen during a House Armed Services Committee hearing titled "Outside Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence Policy and Posture," in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

UNITED STATES – MARCH 6: Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, is seen during a House Armed Services Committee hearing titled “Outside Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence Policy and Posture,” in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cuellar said he talked to the White House twice to urge the administration not to remove the public health order. He’s concerned lifting Title 42 sends a signal to criminal organizations that “the border is open” and will mean thousands more people crossing when border agents are already overwhelmed.

Speaking to Fox News Digital, Cuellar said the White House is sending “contradictory” messages when it’s asking Congress for billions more in COVID-19 relief aid to fight the pandemic inside America, but at the same time declaring “there’s no pandemic here at the border.”

“They’re contradictory signals, when you say, ‘hey, we need more help for our restaurants. We need more help to buy more vaccines. … But oh, but we’re going to lift Title 42, which is a public health (order). It was not a Trump order. It’s a health order … You’re saying the border is open. You can’t really reconcile that in my opinion.”

YUMA, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 07: Immigrant men from many countries are taken into custody by US Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border on December 7, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona.

YUMA, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 07: Immigrant men from many countries are taken into custody by US Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border on December 7, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona.
(John Moore/Getty Images)

The House of Representatives just Thursday approved $55 billion more COVID-19 aid to restaurants and other hard-hit businesses. And the Senate was poised to approve $10 billion in COVID-19 relief for treatments, vaccines and more, but the effort got derailed this week when Republicans also wanted an amendment to prevent Biden from winding down Title 42.

MAYORKAS SAYS WHITE SUPREMACISTS POSE ‘MOST PROMINENT THREAT’ TO US HOMELAND

Department of Homeland Security Dry. Alejandro Mayorkas reaffirmed Friday that public health order will go away in May and migrants will be able to claim asylum when they arrive at the border.

“Our asylum laws provide that if one qualifies, one can access residency in the United States,” Mayorkas said.And if one does not, one can be removed. In the time of the pandemic, we have been exercising Title 42.

“Title 42 will end on May 23 as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expressed, and then we will be implementing our asylum process as it was designed,” he said Friday.

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov.  Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

FILE – In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In response, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this week said he’d send the migrants by charter buses and flights to Washington, DC, to bring the crisis to Biden’s doorstep. He also ordered inspections of trucks entering into Texas from Mexico.

Cueller said he understands Abbott’s frustration but disagrees with his response. He questioned whether Abbott has the “legal basis” to transport migrants to DC and raised concerns that delaying trucks coming into the US for exterior inspections could cause mayor delays and disrupt the supply chain, especially of auto parts needed at plants in Detroit and beyond.

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“I really wish he would not stop those trucks or delay him,” Cuellar said, warning that Mexico could retaliate with truck inspections of their own.

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Rep.  Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, attends a House Financial Services Committee hearing titled Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy featuring testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in Rayburn Building on February 27, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, attends a House Financial Services Committee hearing titled Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy featuring testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in Rayburn Building on February 27, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

“That would not be good for our economy and their economy,” he said.

The Republicans on the bipartisan House legislation are Reps. Tony Gonzales of Texas, Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, August Pfluger of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Don Bacon of Nebraska and Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida.

In addition, other Democrats not officially sponsoring the bill have raised alarms about rescinding the Title 42 order.

Fellow Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez said in a statement that until the Biden administration provides a plan and resources, “we will once again be wholly unprepared to handle a surge in irregular migration at our Southern Border in a humane, safe and orderly way.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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