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As President Biden doubles down on ending Title 42 by appealing a federal court ruling blocking its termination, several Democrats critical of the move are redoubling their warnings about the dangers of doing so without a plan.
“Ending Title 42 without a path forward is wrong and reckless,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who’s in a high-profile Senate race in his state.
“Lifting Title 42 without the appropriate staffing and resources we need will only exacerbate the problems that have contributed to our broken immigration system,” Ryan added. “We cannot end this policy without a comprehensive plan in place.”
Title 42 is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health order that’s been used since March 2020 to expel a majority of migrants at the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
JUDGE’S HALT OF TITLE 42 REPEAL GETS BIDEN ADMIN, DEMS OUT OF TRICKY POLITICAL SITUATION
The Biden administration has repeatedly said Title 42 is a public health order, not a border security order, and therefore the decision to lift must be made on public health grounds only. But Republicans, and a bevy of congressional Democrats who broke with the White House on the issue, say the president needs to consider how to handle the real consequences of lifting the order too.
“As courts consider Title 42, Sen. Hassan will continue to share her concerns about prematurely lifting Title 42 and will continue pressing the administration on ways to have a safe, secure and humane border,” Laura Epstein, a spokesperson for Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said. Hassan is also in a competitive Senate race.
The legal defeat in a way could have helped the Biden administration and Democrats. According to a recent Fox News Poll, 63% of Americans favored keeping the Title 42 border restrictions. Further, the Department of Homeland Security was anticipating a massive surge of migrants to the southern border as a result of Title 42 ending, a scene Republicans planned to use against Democrats ahead of the midterms.
FOX NEWS POLL: MAJORITY WANTS TITLE 42 CORONAVIRUS BORDER RESTRICTIONS TO REMAIN
But rather than simply leave the decision alone, Biden’s Justice Department announced an appeal shortly after Judge Robert Summerhays in the Western District of Louisiana issued his ruling. That ruling was in response to a lawsuit by two dozen Republican states, led by Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri.
“The administration disagrees with the court’s ruling, and the Department of Justice has announced that it will appeal this decision,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a Friday statement. “The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. But if the administration is successful in its appeal, it could theoretically immediately end Title 42 – whether President Biden’s fellow Democrats approve of the administration’s plan or not.
“Sen. Cortez Masto is following this case in the courts and will continue to urge the administration to develop a comprehensive plan,” Masto spokesperson Lauren Wodarski told Fox News Digital. “She’ll keep working with her colleagues to fix our broken immigration system by strengthening our border security and treating immigrant families with dignity.”
A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., told Fox News that he wants to see a comprehensive immigration plan before Title 42 is lifted, regardless of the appeal or its outcome.
FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS BIDEN ADMIN FROM ENDING TITLE 42 BORDER EXPULSIONS
Cortez Masto and Kelly – each considered among the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election this year – in particular have attacked the Biden administration’s plans to deal with a border surge as insufficient.
“What I’m concerned about, and is clear, is the fact that I don’t see a comprehensive plan,” Cortez Masto said of a Title 42 plan released last month by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Even if you have something on paper, you still have to implement that,” Kelly said of Mayorkas’ plan at the time. “And what I’ve even seen on paper is still lacking sufficient detail for me to be comfortable.”
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Title 42’s enforcement was supposed to end Monday, a date the White House set earlier this year. But Jean-Pierre said Friday that “in compliance with the court’s injunction, the Biden administration will continue to enforce the CDC’s 2020 Title 42 public health authority pending the appeal.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.